Press Club honors fallen journalists on World Press Freedom Day

Staff photo / Mason Cole Chris Cerenelli, anchor, reporter and forecaster for WFMJ-TV 21, was one of the readers at the event.

YOUNGSTOWN — The mood was solemn as members of the Youngstown Press Club gathered inside the Mahoning County Courthouse Friday for a ceremony to honor fallen journalists.

One by one, members of the club rose, stood before their peers and read the names of journalists killed while practicing their profession in 2023.

The event comes as part of celebrations of World Press Freedom Day across the world.

“It’s an opportunity to pay tribute to these people who have, again, sacrificed their lives for truth and transparency,” Chris Cerenelli, anchor, reporter and forecaster for WFMJ-TV 21, said. Cerenelli was one of the readers at the event. “I just think it’s very important that any opportunity we have to call attention to that and be a part of that and get that awareness out there is important.”

Mahoning County Juvenile Court Judge Theresa Dellick also read the names of the fallen reporters.

The journalists named during the event had worked across the world.

In Somalia, Abdifatah Moalim Nur was a journalist and news anchor for Somali Cable TV. He died in a suicide bomb attack at a restaurant in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

In Sudan, Halima Idris Salim was a reporter for a local independent online news outlet called Sudan Bukra. Salim died when a group of soldiers from a paramilitary group ran over her and another person with a vehicle while she was on assignment.

In Ukraine, Bohdan Bitik, a Ukrainian television producer, was shot and killed on a bridge near the southern frontline Ukrainian city of Kherson.

Nur, Salim and Bitik were three of the 99 journalists killed in connection to their occupations during 2023. That number becomes more staggering when compared to the 67 journalists killed while working in 2022 and the 45 in 2021, according to a news release.

“Journalism is a dangerous profession,” Lori Factor, president of the Youngstown Press Club board of governors, said. “In some parts of the world, it’s much more dangerous than in others. But that doesn’t mean that we should turn our backs, whether the number is 10 or the number is 99. It caused us to pause, as a group, when we saw that number.”

At least 95 journalists and media workers have been killed in the Israel-Gaza war since that conflict began on Oct. 7, according to preliminary figures from the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent non-profit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide.

“No one expects when you get up and go to work that you might be killed,” Factor said. “Journalists, in many parts of the world, that’s their reality.”

One of the names read was Dylan Lyons, a reporter for Spectrum News 13 in Florida. Lyons was shot to death while covering another fatal shooting in Orlando.

“It can happen anywhere, it can happen in the United States,” Factor said. “I don’t think it matters in what country it happens. The fact that we have journalists who are being killed while trying to tell their story is sobering.”

Factor said the press club has read the names of journalists killed in relation to their work since the club was re-established in 2018.

She said the press club is “very proud” of the honorary event. She said it is something that the club will continue to do annually.

Have an interesting story? Contact Mason Cole by email at mcole@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @masoncoletrib


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