Times square journalists

The New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square this year will honor journalists in celebration of freedom of the press. Photo courtesy Times Square via Twitter.

The New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square this year will honor journalists in celebration of freedom of the press.

In a tweet Saturday, Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment announced a group of journalists will lead the countdown to 2019, a "moment historically seen as a celebration of the human spirit and a source of hope."

“In one of the world’s most famous public squares it is fitting to celebrate free press and free speech as we reflect on where we’ve been during the past year and what it is we value most as a society," Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, said in a news release. He added the hashtag, #CelebratePressFreedom, which was already gaining traction on social media Saturday.

Special guests from across media, along with the Committee to Protect Journalists, with push the crystal button that signals the 60-second countdown to the ball drop.

Guests will include:

  • Karen Attiah, Global Opinions Editor, The Washington Post
  • Rebecca Blumenstein, Deputy Managing Editor, The New York Times
  • Alisyn Camerota, Co-Anchor, CNN New Day
  • Vladimir Duthiers, Correspondent, CBS News and Anchor, CBSN
  • Edward Felsenthal, Editor-in-Chief, TIME
  • Lester Holt, Anchor, NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC
  • Matt Murray, Editor-in-Chief, The Wall Street Journal
  • Martha Raddatz, Chief Global Affairs Correspondent and “This Week” Co-Anchor, ABC News
  • Maria Ressa, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Editor, Rappler
  • Jon Scott, Anchor, Fox Report Weekend on Fox News Channel
  • Karen Toulon, Senior Editor, Bloomberg

The celebration of press freedom is "a message of unity and harmony for the new year," said Jeff Straus, president of Countdown Entertainment, which co-organizes the ball drop with the Times Square Alliance.

Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, praised the decision to honor media around the world "who work hard every day to keep their communities informed and hold the powerful to account." The nonprofit organization defends the freedom of the press to report news safely and without fear of reprisal and reports violations.

"It’s the freedom to do this critical work that we celebrate,” Simon said of the New Year's Eve event."

The move comes after Time Magazine dedicated its "Person of the Year" to journalists, or "guardians," who have been killed or persecuted, including slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed inside of the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, and the five Capital Gazette journalists killed in June.

Contact the writer at 719-636-0362 or find her on Twitter: @njKaitlinDurbin.

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Kaitlin is a public safety reporter with a focus on investigations. She is a proud Ohioan, champion for local libraries, volunteer reading tutor and an expert ice cream connoisseur (mint chocolate chip!). She joined the Gazette in 2016.

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