On this May 3 as we observe World Press Freedom Day, we take time to honor those who promote and protect the freedom of expression, and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives while giving voice to those who may not have the opportunity to express themselves freely — including the journalists recently killed while bravely covering the crisis in Libya.
This year the United States is proud to have partnered with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and civil society organizations to host the global World Press Freedom Day conference, which focused on the theme “21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers.” With two billion people now online, the internet has become the public space of the 21st Century. We have all witnessed the power that this surge in connectivity can have in shaping society and holding governments accountable. New media empowers individuals around the world to share information and express opinions in ways unimaginable just ten years ago.
Even as we celebrate innovations that make information easier to share, we are reminded that in many places around the world, journalists are still targeted for harassment and abuse, and are sometimes killed. Today, we remember that journalism is a calling of everyday heroes. We must continue to stand up for those who speak out in perilous circumstances as they pursue, record, and report the truth.