Free The Press: Supporting Journalists Under Duress

Posted by Thomas O. Melia
May 2, 2012
Television Camera Crew Reporting in Mumbai

On May 3, people worldwide will observe World Press Freedom Day, a UNESCO initiative.  They will gather in cities and towns, through workshops and seminars, to join in celebrating the universal right of free expression first enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights more than six decades ago.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of addressing the importance of free expression and a free press at the National Endowment for Democracy. I emphasized that a free press is the bedrock of a free, healthy and energetic society. It allows citizens to hold informed opinions, make informed decisions and lead informed lives. It keeps public officials accountable, provides outlets for healthy debate, and enables society to become more stable, prosperous, and democratic.

But, like a mirror to society, the media also reflects a version of reality that can at times make us proud and at times make us cringe.

That is why journalists are on the front lines in the battle for free expression. Their treatment by government often serves as an indicator for the levels of freedom in society. As Secretary Clinton said on last year's World Press Freedom Day, "When a free media is in jeopardy, all other human rights are threatened."

Today, too many editors, citizen journalists, bloggers, photojournalists, videographers and pundits are attacked, threatened, censored, intimidated, disappeared or even murdered for trying to report the news or exercise their right to freedom of expression. Those who are imperiled need their stories heard.

That is why, this year, the State Department launched a "Free The Press" campaign. On a daily basis since April 18, we have been highlighting on HumanRights.gov one representative case of a journalist whose rights are being endangered and abused. Some, like Dawit Isaac of Eritrea, have been held incommunicado without formal charge or trial. Yet others, like Yoani Sanchez of Cuba, are not permitted to leave the country. To see the journalists we have highlighted in the past two weeks, visit HumanRights.gov or visit us on Facebook.

In the coming year, we will continue to stand up for the right to free expression in every medium -- in print and pixel, in image and imagination. And not just on World Press Freedom Day, but every day.

Comments

Comments

Henry
|
United States
May 3, 2012

Henry in the U.S.A. writes:

I would appreciate your response to this article in The Nation which discusses the case of journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye:

'http://www.thenation.com/article/166757/why-president-obama-keeping-jour...'

use23
May 3, 2012

W.W. writes:

Charles Lewis : American reporters and Journalist are today Manipulated

From Vietnam to Iraq and any war matter got manipulated to deceive public opinion.

Investigative journalist has the mission to investigate who is lying like we have done for example with Cheney - years to dismiss the case in court

Live meeting with nepal @conx for free the press day

Susan C.
|
Florida, USA
May 3, 2012

Susan C. in Florida writes:

Without "freedom of the press" there is no freedom. Look at every nation that curtails their journalists, and their writers, and you have a repressive government. We in America may not always agree with all that is written, whether in newspapers, magazines, books, or on the internet, but we must continue to demand that we have the right to freely express ourselves. If that changes then we will no longer have a free society.

Leah G.
|
United States
May 3, 2012

Leah G. in the U.S.A. writes:

Freedom of the press and freedom of speech is something we hold dear as Americans. We must not take these freedoms for granted. The "Free The Press" campaign is an awe-inspiring reminder of the many journalists around the world who make daily sacrifices to ensure their stories get told.

Christina P.
|
Australia
May 4, 2012

Christina Dian P. in Australia writes:

New Voices - Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies

bill56
May 4, 2012

W.W. writes:

These newspapers, like the Indian god Vishnu, will be possessed of hundreds of hands, each of which will be feeling the pulse of varying public opinion

Our Government will resemble the Hindu god Vishnu. Each of our hundred hands will hold one spring of the social machinery of State

Henry
|
United States
May 7, 2012

Henry in the U.S.A. writes:

According the article in The Nation, Abdulelah Haider Shaye is a journalist being held in a Yemeni prison at the personal request of President Obama. Shaye exposed the fact that a missile strike, which had been carried out in Yemen by the US, killed a substantial number of women and children, but no terrorists. The US had attempted to conceal its involvement by having the Yemeni government take credit for the attack, but Shaye visited the site of the attack and photographed remnants of missiles with US markings. If the US government is acting in such a way to suppress freedom of the press, it makes the State Department's public relations campaign, described on this page, ring hollow.

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