Tag Archives: Mark Friedman

Westport Celebrates World Press Freedom Day

Alert “06880” reader Mark Friedman — an RTM representative, and founder of iheartfreedomofthepress.com — writes:

As a child of the 1970s, I watched Superman cartoons. He worked tirelessly for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.”

Somewhere along the way (in law school?), I came to accept that people would not soon jump tall buildings in a single bound. But I also developed an abiding gratitude for the rights protected by the Constitution of the United States — in particular, our First Amendment freedoms.

World Press Freedom Day is tomorrow (Friday, May 3). Westport honors this day with a 3:30 p.m. event at Town Hall.

Mark Friedman, at Westport’s Memorial Day parade.

Westporter Bill Haas of the UN Association of SW CT will moderate a panel discussion considering the impact of money, politics and censorship on press freedom.  Participants include Congressman Jim Himes, Francesca Procaccini of Yale Law School, Michael DeDora of Committee to Protect Journalists, and myself.

Westport — known for its artistic influences and commitment to freedom of expression — strikes me as the perfect place for this event.

At a time when governments worldwide jail hundreds of journalists, and the US is ranked 48th worldwide in terms of press freedoms, Westport seems especially equipped to provide the intellectual and moral leadership, given its ethos of service — both locally and globally.

I encourage Westporters to attend Friday’s event. I also ask us everyone to consider Nelson Mandela’s reflection on press freedom:

A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy.  The press must be free from state interference.  It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials.  It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favor.

Westporters have a significant role to play in protecting Truth, Justice, and the American Way. And as a certain Marvel superhero reminds us, with great power comes great responsibility.

Mark Friedman Fights For Freedom Of The Press

Mark Friedman is not a journalist. He’s not married to a reporter, and there are none in his family.

But the Westport investment advisor is one of our town’s staunchest defenders of freedom of the press.

And — if his side business catches fire — he might become one of the nation’s strongest too.

Friedman runs a website: IHeartFreedomofthePress.com. It’s not fancy, but neither is its mission.

Mark Friedman, at Westport’s Memorial Day parade.

Freedom of the press is “the only effectual guardian of every other right,” said James Madison — it’s right there, on Friedman’s home page — and the site is devoted to recent stories about assaults on the First Amendment.

There are links to organizations like the Committee to Protect Journalists, Newseum and the National Constitution Center.

And “I ♥ Freedom of the Press” merchandise, like t-shirts and car magnets.

Friedman’s respect for the Constitution and Bill of Rights was sparked when he practiced law. Then — “called to teaching” — he spent a decade at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, where as an English and history instructor he gave serious thought to those foundations of democracy.

Now, in Westport, he spends time as an RTM member, PTA and sports volunteer. Starting this fall, he’ll teach Sunday school.

Over the last couple of years, as attacks on the press mounted, Friedman grew concerned. “‘Enemy of the people’ is a Stalinist phrase. It was used to persecute,” he says.

Friedman believes that freedom of the press is important to all citizens, of any political party. He wanted to find a “non-partisan, unifying and positive” way to reinforce the notion.

During World War II, his uncle — past the age of enlistment — nonetheless joined the military. He wanted to help save democracy.

“I’m not putting my life in danger,” Friedman notes. “But the spirit is the same: fighting and honoring those who fought before us, so we could be here now.”

He worked with his wife to refine the website concept. His middle school son helped with the design.

Mark Friedman’s merchandise.

People are noticing. Last week, at a baseball game, an usher noticed Friedman’s shirt. Her son works in media, and she wanted to know how to get one.

Some people scream “fake news!,” Friedman says. But positive comments far outweigh negative ones.

His goal is to get Americans to think about the concept of freedom of the press — and the patriotism and courage of reporters.

The Newseum has a memorial to journalists killed in the line of duty. Most are in far-off places. Now, Friedman says, “it’s chilling that reporters face hostile crowds here. Things could turn violent.”

He hopes not. But if they do, he’ll fully support the journalists who cover that breaking news.