This article originally was posted on blog.state.gov on May 3, 2016.
Secretary Kerry delivered remarks to journalists at the State Department today in recognition of World Press Freedom Day, which is commemorated annually on May 3 to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
In his remarks, Secretary Kerry described the era in which we live as a turbulent one, with a struggle waged over truth at its core. He said, “ Look behind the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Ukraine; or the tensions on the Korean Peninsula and South China Sea; or the terrorist propaganda that degrades our social media; or campaigns by civil society to confront high-level corruption – and you will see a fundamental battle to define reality”
Secretary Kerry acknowledged World Press Freedom Day as an opportunity to reflect on the importance of this struggle, reiterating the United States’ determination to push back against the ill-intentioned state and non-state actors who aim to intimidate, censor, and silence those who investigate and report the truth.
Secretary Kerry continued to recognize the critical role journalists play not only in democracies, but also in countries where civil and political rights are fragile, and in areas of conflict where objective reporting is extremely hazardous. He said, “I deeply admire efforts made by media organizations and by individuals in the press to protect journalists, increase awareness of safety issues, and call attention to abuses.”
The Secretary reiterated the State Department’s commitment to protecting the rights of the press and underscored several U.S. programs aimed at supporting this effort. He said, “… we will continue to speak out regularly, publicly and behind the scenes, to defend the rights of the press, both generally and with respect to individuals who have been threatened, abducted, or unjustly imprisoned or detained. This applies not only to print reporters, but to broadcasters, bloggers, photographers, cartoonists, and other media workers as well.”
Secretary Kerry concluded by speaking directly to those who try to intimidate or jail reporters. He urged, “…a country without a free and independent press has nothing to brag about, nothing to teach, and no way to fulfill its potential. To those who try to coerce or imprison reporters, we say loud and clear that committing journalism, reporting on the truth, is not a crime. It is a badge of honor. And today, we salute all — near and far — who proudly wear that badge.”
For more information:
- Watch the video of Secretary Kerry’s full remarks on World Press Freedom Day.
- Learn more about the State Department and USAID’s programs that support independent media in more than 30 countries.
- Read about the United States’ SAFE Initiative, which has provided digital and physical security training to more than 750 journalists worldwide.
- Find out how we are promoting dialogue between American and international journalists through Tech camps, workshops, and exchanges and fellowships like the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists.
- Read about the state of media freedom around the world in the Department’s Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
- Check out the Department’s 5th Annual Free the Press Campaign.