Statement by Ambassador Anne W. Patterson on the Occasion of World Press Freedom Day
May 3, 2012
Journalists, bloggers, filmmakers and pundits exercise a fundamental freedom enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
On this World Press Freedom day, the United States calls on all governments to take the steps necessary to create space for independent journalists to do their work without fear of violence or persecution. We pay special tribute to those courageous journalists, bloggers, and citizens who have sacrificed their lives, health, or freedom so that others could know the truth. And we honor the role of free and independent media in creating sustainable democracies and open, healthy societies.
A free and vibrant press is a critical element of any functioning democracy. The press plays an essential role in supplying factual and timely information to the people to enable them to make independent judgments and informed decisions. Citizens need news they can trust. So do businesses and markets. And so do governments. The press also serves as an overseer of government. It is important for all of us, as citizens, to understand political perspectives, arguments and views that may differ from our own, thereby allowing us to think about, update and modify our own outlooks and the decisions we make for ourselves and for our country. As former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln said in 1864, "Let the people know the facts and the country will be safe."