Indiana State University took a wise step in marking the work of a slain alumnus by initiating an annual address on his craft, journalism.

Tuesday evening’s inaugural Jamal Khashoggi Annual Address on Journalism and the Media featured Khashoggi’s friend and Washington Post colleague, David Ignatius. The event drew a healthy audience to Tilson Auditorium. The crowd heard Ignatius share his insights on both Khashoggi’s life and the global politics that inspired the fallen Post columnist’s career. Ignatius joked about the title of his speech, “How to Fix the World,” yet actually delivered some thought-provoking ideas to do just that.

Most important, the forum spotlighted a pillar of democracy, an occupation specifically protected in the Constitution’s First Amendment the free press.

Ignatius did not cheer lead for his vocation. Instead, he looked at the state of the free press in America and beyond with the critical eye of a seasoned journalist. He has covered the Middle East and international affairs since 1980, often amid war and conflict, and today serves as the Post’s foreign affairs columnist. The freedom to write the truth about such harsh, tragic situations was among Ignatius’ examples of ways to “fix the world.”

That view of journalism’s power to change injustice and oppression is something Ignatius and Khashoggi had in common. Khashoggi became a journalist after studying business at ISU from 1977 to 1982 and receiving his bachelor’s degree in May 1983. A native of Saudi Arabia, his passion was to see that country and the Arab world transformed. After supporting radical tactics to bring such change, Khashoggi decided journalism and the truth was the best method to end corruption and to reform governments.

Khashoggi showed courage in challenging the ruling royal family and religious establishment in Saudi Arabia through his columns in the Arab press and then with the Post, once that iconic D.C. newspaper hired him as a global politics columnist in 2017. Khashoggi knew his frank reporting on the kingdom could endanger his life. Yet he continued writing.

“He was not a man who could suppress what he believed was true,” Ignatius said Tuesday.

Khashoggi died in an apparent assassination, carried out by a 15-man Saudi strike team on Oct. 2, 2018, inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Khashoggi had traveled there to pick up paperwork necessary to marry his Turkish fiancee.

The CIA concluded the attack was directed by the same Saudi officials Khashoggi had both criticized and praised in his columns.

Ignatius said of ISU’s initiation of an annual address on journalism, “I can’t think of a better way to honor [Jamal].” Indeed, the program has the potential to attract national attention to the dangers journalists face worldwide, the state of the free press in the U.S. and elsewhere, and the future of journalism.

It would be wonderful to see the event perpetuated, perhaps through a private endowment. (Maybe from Khashoggi’s former employer, the Post?) In doing so, ISU could also highlight its own journalism program — one that has produced many talented reporters, photographers, columnists and editors, as well as a Pulitzer Prize winner. Khashoggi, no doubt, would be impressed to see such a focus on the career he chose following his time in Terre Haute.

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