Club Hails Signing of Press Freedom Law
May 17, 2010 | By John Hughes | Jhughes5@bloomberg.net
The National Press Club hailed the signing of the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, which will bring greater scrutiny to the treatment of the news media around the world.
The law, which was approved by the House in December and the Senate in April, expands the State Department's annual report on countries to include the status of press freedoms.
Where there are severe violations of those freedoms, the report will examine whether countries participate in, or condone, the restrictions.
"The signing of the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act is an important step toward advancing a free press worldwide," National Press Club President Alan Bjerga said. "We applaud this new law and look forward to its swift implementation.
UPDATE: This is a transcript of the May 17 signing ceremony as provided by the WhiteHouse:
Oval Office, 11:32 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, hello, everybody. I am very proud to be able to sign the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, a piece of legislation that sends a strong signal about our core values when it comes to the freedom of the press.
All around the world there are enormously courageous journalists and bloggers who, at great risk to themselves, are trying to shine a light on the critical issues that the people of their country face; who are the frontlines against tyranny and oppression. And obviously the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is, and it reminded us that there are those who would go to any length in order to silence journalists around the world.
What this act does is it sends a strong message from the United States government and from the State Department that we are paying attention to how other governments are operating when it comes to the press. It has the State Department each year chronicling how press freedom is operating as one component of our human rights assessment, but it also looks at countries that are -- governments that are specifically condoning or facilitating this kind of press repression, singles them out and subjects them to the gaze of world opinion in ways that I think are extraordinarily important.
Oftentimes without this kind of attention, countries and governments feel that they can operate against the press with impunity. And we want to send a message that they can’t.
So this legislation, in a very modest way, I think puts us clearly on the side of journalistic freedom. I want to thank Adam Schiff in the House and Senator Chris Dodd in the Senate for their leadership. And I particularly want to thank the Pearl family, who have been so outspoken and so courageous in sending a clear message that, despite Daniel’s death, his vision of a well-informed citizenry that is able to make choices and hold governments accountable, that that legacy lives on.
So we are very grateful to them. I’m grateful to the legislative leaders who helped to pass this. It is something that I intend to make sure our State Department carries out with vigor. And with that, I’m going to sign the bill.