Statement By Heather Nauert, Spokesperson – World Day of Freedom of Press 2018

Office of the Spokesperson
Statement from the spokesperson Heather Nauert
May 3, 2018

World day of freedom of press 2018

Today is the 25th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day.

Journalists shine a light on many issues around the world, keeping citizens informed, prompting robust debate and discussion – we certainly face that here – and holding governments accountable.

We honor the many journalists and media professionals who have dedicated their lives to the profession. We see all too often that journalists continue to take great risks to pursue this important work. We saw this earlier this week, certainly, in Afghanistan.

Journalists have been detained for their reporting in Burma, Cuba, Egypt, Turkey, and in China. The family members of Uighur journalists have been detained as a result of their relatives reporting on China’s widespread crackdown of Uighurs and other Muslims.

Authorities have shut down or have attempted to shut down media outlets critical of the respective governments in Tanzania, in Cambodia, in the Philippines, and many other places as well. In mid-April, the Nicaraguan Government ordered five television stations off the air during nationwide protests, and many journalists continue to be threatened, censored, or intimidated.

We urge accountability for the murder of journalists in Malta, Mexico, Russia, and Slovakia, and the apparent assassination of a BBC Pashto reporter in Afghanistan on Monday. We are also outraged by Monday’s savage attack in Kabul claimed by ISIS that killed nine journalists and media professionals, including some, I know, from some of your organizations and from Radio Free Europe as well. We want to express our deepest condolences and sympathy for the loss of those brave reporters.

While these examples clearly demonstrate that the safety and independence of journalists and media outlets remains precarious in many environments, we’d also like to underscore the vital importance of credible news reporting to free and open democratic societies.

Censorship and disinformation are common tactics for eroding press freedom, and we encourage people in all regions of the world to think critically about their sources of news and information.

Earlier this morning, the department hosted an interactive web chat to discuss the importance of media literacy in today’s evolving news and information landscape. Healthy and robust public debates based on facts, evidence, and reason are integral to civic engagement.

With on-camera participation from a viewing group in Nairobi and more than 30 other viewing groups at posts around the world, the panelists highlighted ways that educators and students can develop their skills in analyzing and understanding the credibility and the biases of media sources. You can review the discussion at our DRL, at our Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor’s Facebook page at State DRL.