Lauren Rochester, Awards Coordinator, (317) 927-8000, ext. 210, firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Leadingham, SPJ Communications Department, (317) 927-8000, ext. 211, email@example.com
INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to award Indiana University student Elvia Malagon with the Robert D.G. Lewis First Amendment Award, which honors a student SPJ member that has demonstrated outstanding service to the First Amendment through the field of journalism.
Malagon established her commitment to freedom of the press early in her college career. She applied as a staff writer for the university newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student, and began covering the diversity and culture beats for the Campus and City & State sections of the newspaper by spring semester. It was covering these beats that lead to her major First Amendment advocacy experience.
In January 2008, Malagon was sent to cover an “off-the-record” speech by Meghan O’Sullivan, the former deputy national security advisor to President George W. Bush. Although the speech was not supposed to be reported on by members of the media, it was free and open to the public. Shortly after arriving at the speech location, Malagon was approached by advisers of the group sponsoring the event questioning her presence and attempting to convince her that a personal interview after the event would be a better option than covering the speech itself.
After Malagon refused to leave, O’Sullivan’s speech was cancelled. Malagon and her editors were strong in supporting the right for journalists to report on the information presented in a public forum and a public university.
“It would have been easier for Elvia to leave, but the right thing to do was stay,” Indiana University Editorial Adviser of Student Media Ruth Witmer wrote in her nomination letter. “She had great instincts, an understanding of her role as a public servant, an understanding of the media’s role as a watchdog and a firm will. I believe Elvia is the kind of young journalist the Robert D.G. Lewis First Amendment Award was designed to encourage and celebrate.”
“I am honored and proud to be a recipient of this year’s Robert D.G. Lewis First Amendment Award,” Malagon said after learning of her win. “It’s great to see an award that spotlights journalists and newsrooms who strive to bring the best coverage to their readers even when obstacles occur during reporting.”
Malagon will be recognized Friday, Sept. 5 during a luncheon at the 2008 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference in Atlanta at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. For more information about the event, visit www.spj.org/convention.asp.
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.