#490312 - 05/03/14 12:28 PM
US State Dept and USAID Efforts to Support Press
On World Press Freedom Day, the United States pays special honor to
the importance of media freedom – a crucial element of freedom of
expression – at home and abroad. A diverse and independent press is
crucial to holding governments accountable and promoting democracy
around the world. The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
(DRL) at the U.S. Department of State details the state of media
freedom around the world in the Annual Country Reports on Human Rights
Practices. The USAID Media Sustainability Index is an equally
important tool in monitoring and reporting on media freedom. The Under
Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs also routinely
highlights the mounting threats to journalists everywhere and the
critical importance of a free press to democratic societies. The
United States continuously works to advance media freedom around the
world through bilateral engagement, public diplomacy, programming, and
Examples of State Department and USAID efforts to promote media freedom include:
- The State Department’s Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists,
through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), has
welcomed more than 1,000 rising international journalists to the
United States since 2006 to explore the role of independent media in
fostering and protecting freedom of expression and democracy.
- The State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs
(IIP) provided country-specific press freedom projects, as well as
public diplomacy programming tools centered on blogging and ethics and
a journalism ethics package promoting credibility and integrity in a
digital age, both of which empower local citizens to share their
stories. IIP also partnered with Embassy Dhaka, Bangladesh for a
virtual program on applying journalist ethics in today’s digital age
of 24-hour news and social media.
- The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor funds 86 media programs, including programs that focus on
investigative reporting, conflict sensitivity reporting, civic
engagement by youth through media, increasing diversity in the media
sector, gender-sensitive media programming, and access to independent
media in local languages.
In Kyrgyzstan, DRL has helped fund an independent public service TV and radio broadcaster to help curb the brain drain of Uzbek language journalists from southern Kyrgyzstan. The broadcaster remains the only outlet where Uzbek journalists can work and produce programming in their native language.
In the Middle East and North Africa, DRL is funding a program to train youth, many of which are at-risk, to influence national and regional dialogues and debates on democracy and human rights through media.
DRL’s Internet freedom programs focus on technology that not only provides journalists with online security, but also gives them open and uncensored access to information and communications, in addition to digital safety training
In Mexico, DRL is funding a program that assists Mexican media professionals, including journalists, bloggers, and others, by continuously monitoring local security environments and responding to elevated threat levels.
- DRL’s SAFE Initiative provides state-of-the-art trainings to
journalists on physical and digital security and psychosocial care
through centers in San Salvador, El Salvador; Tbilisi, Georgia; and
Nairobi, Kenya. This year the program will expand, adding an
additional hub in Asia and will pilot a “mobile hub” in Turkey that
will support journalists working in Syria.
- The U.S. Middle East Partnership Initiative assisted 66 media sector
organizations and hundreds of journalists promoting media freedom and
journalist training in the Middle East and North Africa region in
- USAID also provides strong support for media freedom around the
world. Currently, USAID supports independent media strengthening
programs in more than 31 countries, with an approximate annual total
budget of $40 million.
Examples of these initiatives include:
- Since 2011, USAID's Internet Freedom programming has worked with
hundreds of vulnerable civil society and independent media
organizations and bloggers in more than a dozen countries to provide
them with long-term mentoring, tools, training, and techniques to keep
themselves and their data safe and resilient online.
- In Ukraine, a local partner organization of the USAID-supported
Regional Investigative Journalism Network (RIJN) has played an active
role in anti-corruption efforts by securing and making public
thousands of sensitive documents that former Ukrainian President
Viktor Yanukovych and his entourage attempted to destroy upon fleeing
the presidential compound in early 2014. The Organized Crime and
Reporting Project (or OCCRP), an organization which supports RIJN, has
also created a website to track assets held by former Ukrainian
- In Afghanistan, USAID support has resulted in the emergence of a
national network of nearly 50 Afghan-owned and operated radio stations
with millions of listeners across the country. Notably, USAID seed
capital support to the Tolo Television network, a popular source of
independent news, has allowed Tolo to grow and provide non-state
television to over two-thirds of the population.
- The USAID-supported program “Building a Digital Gateway to Better
Lives” has empowered more than 200 professional and citizen
journalists in the Middle East and North Africa to report on issues
rarely covered by local media by giving them hands-on experience with
digital journalism tools.
The U.S. Government has also brought media freedom issues to the fore
at the UN and in regional multilateral forums. For example:
- At the March 2014 UN Human Rights Council (HRC) session, the United
States sponsored a consensus resolution renewing the mandate of the UN
Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression, a vital
international voice promoting freedom of expression, including press
- The United States joined over 70 other states in a joint statement
highlighting the importance of the safety of journalists at the
September 2013 UN HRC session.
- The United States condemned violence against journalists and called
for their protection, especially as they report on armed conflicts, at
a UN Security Council debate that we convened on July 17, 2013. We
also co-sponsored a resolution on violence against journalists at the
September 2013 Human Rights Council session and last fall’s UN General
- The United States fully endorsed the 2012 UN Plan of Action on the
Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
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