Washington Stock market losses amounting to about 30 percent of its $1 billion endowment have forced the Freedom Forum to close four international offices a move that will hinder the foundation's efforts to encourage world press freedoms.
Four overseas offices in London; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Hong Kong; and Johannesburg, South Africa will be closed, according to a statement released Friday. The foundation's First Amendment Center in New York will also close, but operations will be shifted to the Washington headquarters.
The Freedom Forum focuses on four main areas: the Newseum (an interactive journalism museum), First Amendment issues, newsroom diversity and press freedom around the world. Chairman and chief executive Charles Overby said its efforts to promote world press freedom would suffer most from the cutbacks.
The Freedom Forum was established in 1991, succeeding the Gannett Foundation, established by Frank E. Gannett in 1935. The Freedom Forum is not affiliated with the Gannett Co., which owns USA Today.
In the last two years, the Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation dedicated to freedom of the press and freedom of speech, has lost $300 million in assets.