National Press Club

Marking World Press Freedom Day Here and Away

Angela Greiling Keane | May 3, 2013

As we mark World Press Freedom Day here at the National Press Club and around the globe, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on its importance.

This day was created 20 years ago by the United Nations General Assembly to highlight press freedom around the world and defend the right of the news media to do its job freely and safely. Those values are things the NPC stands up for on a daily basis.

The Club was proud to host the main event in the world for WPFD in 2011 when Mark Hamrick was president. That was the first and only time the event has been held in the United States. While the big UN event is in San Jose, Costa Rica this year, the NPC is heartily marking the occasion.

Last night, our Press Freedom Committee led by John Donnelly hosted a heated panel discussion moderated by committee vice chairwoman Rachel Oswald that examined the growth of state-owned media from other countries covering the U.S. The panel, which included speakers from Al Jazeera English and the Washington Post, owes its creation to new member Gary Evans, so thank you Gary for your work putting it together.

Last week, with the National Endowment for Democracy and its Center for International Media Assistance, the NPC co-hosted a discussion about internet governance around the world and who controls internet content. NPC member Marguerite Sullivan moderated that sobering panel with speakers from Google and the State Department. It certainly made me as a U.S. journalist thankful to live in a place where government censors don't control access to what we want to read or post online.

This morning, the club issued a statement commemorating WPFD and highlighting the plight of two American journalists- James Foley and Austin Tice - believed to be held in Syria because of their work. And later today, we'll announce the winners of this year's NPC press freedom awards, which will be given out in August.

While it's easy in the U.S. to take our First Amendment protections for granted, I'm asking each of you today to appreciate what we have and think what you can do to advance press freedom.