Federal officials have approved a site on the National Mall for the capital’s first memorial dedicated to journalists who have died while reporting the news and to the role of the free press in a democracy, the foundation planning the project announced Monday. The Fallen Journalists Memorial will be located on a third-of-an-acre parcel in Southwest Washington between the National Museum of the American Indian and the Voice of America building. The location is bordered by Independence and Maryland avenues and Third Street SW. The site, which has a direct view of the Capitol, was chosen to evoke journalists’ role as government watchdogs. The memorial is projected to open in 2028 and will cost as much as $50 million, which will be entirely funded by private donations. Officials said they have commitments to cover 40 percent of the cost so far.
David Dreier, who started the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation, said he was inspired to seek the memorial after a gunman shot and killed five employees at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis in 2018. The attack remains the deadliest assault against journalists in the nation’s history. The Gazette was then owned by Tribune Publishing.
Dreier, a former congressman and former chairman of Tribune Publishing, said he realized at that same time that the Newseum — a D.C. museum dedicated to journalism — was shutting down and that there was nothing commemorating slain journalists on the Mall, even as they were coming under increasing attack at home and abroad.
Dreier said he consulted with a number of other major figures in the news business, including former Washington Post publisher Don Graham, before forging ahead on an effort to construct a memorial. Congress approved the Fallen Journalists Memorial Act in 2020, allowing the project to move forward. President Donald Trump signed the bill into law the same year.
The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts signed off on the site location on Thursday. The next step will be selecting a design proposal for the memorial, which officials hope will happen early next year.
“This will be the first memorial on the National Mall that is actually about an idea,” Dreier said. “That idea is the First Amendment and journalists who died in the pursuit of the truth.”