Journalist Group Decides to Remove Helen Thomas Award

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DEARBORN, Mich.--The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) board of directors voted to discontinue the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award last Friday, reports The Arab American News.

A statement on the decision read “...SPJ stanchly believes Helen Thomas and all people in the United States have a right to free speech. The Society defends that fundamental legal right as a core organizational mission, even when the speech is unpopular, vile or considered offensive,” The statement concluded, “To continue offering the award would reignite the controversy each year and take away from its purpose: honoring a lifetime of work in journalism.”

Thomas, the 90-year-old veteran White House correspondent of Lebanese descent, resigned last June amid controversy over remarks she made on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that some interpreted as anti-Semitic. Thomas apologized shortly thereafter, but defended previous statements last month supporting First Amendment rights.

According to the report, Thomas recently took a position as a columnist for the Falls Church News-Press, a weekly paper in Falls Church, Virginia.