Highlights of the U.S. Department of State and USAID's Efforts to Support Press and Media Freedom

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 3, 2012

On World Press Freedom Day—and every day—the United States honors and supports media freedom at home and abroad. Press freedom is a key element of the freedom of expression, which is a foundation for other universal human rights. In 2011, the United States hosted the international World Press Freedom Day activities in Washington, D.C. This year, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Esther Brimmer is leading the U.S. delegation to a World Press Freedom conference in Tunisia, May 2-6; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathy Fitzpatrick of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor will also attend.

As a part of its "Free the Press" campaign, the Department of State is documenting on www.HumanRights.gov emblematic cases of journalists living and working under threat and duress because of their efforts to exercise the freedom of expression. We call on all governments to protect the universal human right to freedom of expression.

  • Advancing media freedom is a regular part of U.S. diplomatic work. We advocate for freedom of expression and raise media freedom issues, including specific cases, in bilateral discussions with other governments and in multilateral bodies, including but not limited to the UN Human Rights Council, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Organization of American States. At the OSCE, for example, the United States has been a leading voice for freedom of expression and the defense of journalists, and championed a Ministerial Declaration to support fundamental freedoms in the Digital Age.
  • The Department of State reports on the state of media freedom around the world—and threats to journalists—through the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. USAID's Media Sustainability Index measures the media environment in countries in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Eurasia.

With support from Congress, the Department of State and USAID fund foreign assistance and exchange programs that support a free press and Internet freedom.

  • Foreign assistance supports the development of local and independent print, TV, radio, and online media; advocacy for legal and regulatory reform in support of media freedom and the free flow of information; general and issue-specific journalism training, including for women, youth, and marginalized groups; and security training and emergency assistance for journalists and bloggers. Since 2009, we have allocated approximately $300 million for such programs.
  • The Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists has welcomed more than 900 rising international journalists to the United States since 2006. According to a recent report evaluating media exchanges from 2001-2006, the 1,600 journalists and media professionals who participated in various Department of State exchange programs engage in activities that promote greater press freedom once they return home, such as advocating for freedom of information; protecting journalists’ rights, and adopting new professional and ethical standards. For more information, please consult the full report or executive summary.

For further information, please contact Evan Owen at OwenE@state.gov or (202) 647-4747 or visit www.HumanRights.gov.

PRN: 2012/692