May 3 we commemorate World Press Freedom Day at a time when for too many, a free press is under assault, and the journalists, bloggers, photographers, essayists, satirists, and essayists who give life to the words “free press” are in danger.
People everywhere count on a free press to keep us informed, hold leaders accountable, filter fact from fiction, and unmask false narratives masquerading as truth.
The danger of the work journalists do in pursuing the truth was driven home for me during my trip to Kyiv in March. I’ll never forget when our Ambassador pointed out a makeshift memorial on the side of the road where a journalist who dared to criticize the regime was pulled from her car and beaten within an inch of her life by thugs allied with then-President Yanukovych. These abuses are happening in too many places: journalists are intimidated into self-censorship or arrested without cause. They’re imprisoned without judicial recourse or killed with outright impunity.
I am in awe of the courage of those who risk their lives to tell the stories the world needs to hear. In Syria, the world’s most dangerous place to be a journalist, reporters risk torture, detention, abduction, and death to expose the truth and depict the horrors unfolding across the country.
I still remember the reporters who sometimes rode with us on our boat in Vietnam. They didn’t carry a gun. They carried a pen. Sometimes, that’s more powerful.
So today we pay tribute to all our truth tellers in a noble cause: The people who put their lives and liberties on the line to tell the stories the world would otherwise never know. We reaffirm our commitment not only to stand by them, but to stand up for them this day and every day the world over.