The University of Arizona School of Journalism and the Arizona Newspapers Foundation have named Tom Arviso Jr. the 2009 winner of the John Peter and Anna Catherine Zenger Award.
Arviso is the chief executive officer of the Navajo Times Publishing Company Inc. and the publisher of the Navajo Times newspaper in Window Rock, Ariz. He is a staunch advocate for freedom of the press issues and has had numerous discussions with tribal government leaders and officials over editorial control and censorship.
Arviso is a former board vice president and treasurer of the Native American Journalists Association's board of directors and is a member of the Arizona Newspapers Association's board of directors. In 1997, NAJA awarded Arviso its prestigious Wassaja Award for "extraordinary service to Native journalism." A year later, the Arizona Newspapers Association honored Arviso with the Freedom of Information Award.
Arviso received a John S. Knight Fellowship in 2000-2001 and studied newspaper management at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. A member of the Navajo Nation, Arviso is the first American Indian to have been selected for a Knight fellowship.
For more than 50 years, the Zenger Award has honored people who have made extraordinary contributions to freedom of the press issues and the people's right to know.
"The entire journalistic community is well aware of Tom's advocacy for free press issues," said Jacqueline Sharkey, director of the UA School of Journalism. "His work in this area demonstrates why a free press is just as important now as it was 200 years ago when the founders of this country enshrined it in the Bill of Rights."
The award will be presented at the Arizona Newspapers Association annual meeting and convention on Oct. 10 in Phoenix. Arviso will offer the keynote address and plans to speak to classes in the UA School of Journalism.
The Zenger Award is named for a husband-and-wife team of pioneering journalists. John Peter Zenger was editor of The New York Weekly Journal in 1734 when he was jailed by British colonial authorities on charges of seditious libel. He had criticized the corrupt administration of New York's governor, William Cosby. While Zenger was imprisoned, his wife, Anna Catherine Zenger, continued to publish the newspaper.
Zenger's subsequent trial and acquittal is considered a landmark case in the history of the freedom of the press, helping to lay the foundation for the First Amendment.