Thursday, May 2, 2013

May 3 is World Press Freedom Day

The United Nations officially designates Friday, May 3 as World Press Freedom Day, which seems just a touch ironic, given the high esteem and regard in which journalists are held throughout so much of the world.

Of course newspapers and newspaper reporters haven't always been so popular in the United States either. General William Tecumseh Sherman once said, "If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world, but I am sure we would be getting reports from Hell before breakfast." He wanted to hang reporters as spies from time to time, and he was not the only general who felt that way. But they weren't always right.

But this discussion is contrary to the spirit of the occasion. Instead, to get in the mood for today's celebration, how about renting or buying Humphrey Bogart's 1952 classic, Deadline USA? We posted this YouTube snippet of the powerful finale last year, too. Why not? It's still great.

The speech by Ed Hutcheson (Bogart's character) captures the essence of World Press Freedom Day:
It's not just me anymore. You'd have to stop every newspaper in the country now and you're not big enough for the job. People like you have tried it before -- with bullets, prison, censorship -- but as long as even one newspaper will print the truth, you're finished.
Newspapers: You'll miss 'em when they're gone.

Which, sadly, may be soon.

We gave a short list of great newspaper movies in last year's May 3 post, starting with the the 1948 film noir, Call Northside 777, with Jimmy Stewart as a crusading Chicago reporter -- a Chicago movie that was actually filmed largely in Chicago.

We also recommended the 1940 screwball comedy, His Girl Friday, with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. His Girl Friday was a remake of the 1931 movie, The Front Page, with Pat O'Brien in the Rosalind Russell role. If you don't know these movies, you'll scratch your head for awhile over that one. The Front Page was remade in 1974 by Billy Wilder. His version starred Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. In the 1980s the story was filmed again, but reset in a TV environment as Switching Channels. We'd recommend the earlier versions over the later remakes.

If you'd rather not celebrate newspapers Friday, you can always observe National Two Different Colored Shoes Day. Among the suggestions made for May 3 by Usual Suspect are Lumpy Rug Day and International Tuba Day.

We'd still prefer to celebrate freedom of the press, although we admit it might be interesting to see who would celebrate both Ukulele Day and Tuba Day.

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