May 3 we commemorate World Press Freedom Day at a time when for too many, a free press is under assault, and the journalists, bloggers, photographers, essayists, satirists, and essayists who give life to the words “free press” are in danger.
People everywhere count on a free press to keep us informed, hold leaders accountable, filter fact from fiction, and unmask false narratives masquerading as truth.
The danger of the work journalists do in pursuing the truth was driven home for me during my trip to Kyiv in March. I’ll never forget when our Ambassador pointed out a makeshift memorial on the side of the road where a journalist who dared to criticize the regime was pulled from her car and beaten within an inch of her life by thugs allied with then-President Yanukovych. These abuses are happening in too many places: journalists are intimidated into self-censorship or arrested without cause. They’re imprisoned without judicial recourse or killed with outright impunity.
I am in awe of the courage of those who risk their lives to tell the stories the world needs to hear. In Syria, the world’s most dangerous place to be a journalist, reporters risk torture, detention, abduction, and death to expose the truth and depict the horrors unfolding across the country.
I still remember the reporters who sometimes rode with us on our boat in Vietnam. They didn’t carry a gun. They carried a pen. Sometimes, that’s more powerful.
So today we pay tribute to all our truth tellers in a noble cause: The people who put their lives and liberties on the line to tell the stories the world would otherwise never know. We reaffirm our commitment not only to stand by them, but to stand up for them this day and every day the world over.
AS FREEDOM HOUSE DOWN GRADES ZAMBIA TO ‘NOT FREE’
Meanwhile, Zambia’s media environment has been downgraded to “Not Free,” on the Media Freedom Report 2014 released on the eve of press freedom day by the international non-profit organization Freedom House.
Zambia had previously been assessed as “Partly Free,” but dropped to the lowest rank due to “the government’s increased harassment of independent new outlets and journalists, the blocking of critical websites, and politicized decisions to deny nationwide broadcast licenses to certain radio stations.” Click here to view the report: http://www.freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/Zambia%20FOTP2014%20draft.pdf
Committee to protect journalists also released a report showing that Zambia is one of the worst violators of media freedom I the world.
But the PF officials and its newspapers have continued advocating for more violations. Just this week, a very sick and pale minister called Joseph Katema was in New York telling the world that his government will continue suppressing online journalism.
Sick president Michael Sata and labour minister Fackson Shamenda all issued statements showing their hatred and desire to cripple critical online media, especially the Zambia Watchdog.