Sen. Ossoff is leading a push in the U.S. Senate calling for robust funding for programs that protect journalists from threats of violence and promote freedom of the press
Over 80 journalists have been killed each year since 2003 while working to keep the public informed and hold leaders around the globe accountable
Washington, D.C. — Marking World Press Freedom Day yesterday, U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff, a former investigative journalist, led a group of Senators calling for more resources to strengthen press freedom and keep journalists safe around the world.
According to Reporters Without Borders, an average of 80 journalists have been killed around the world each year since 2003.
In their letter, Sen. Ossoff and his colleagues urge specific funding for the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor and USAID’s Center for Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance accounts for journalist safety, including robust resources for direct emergency grants for reporters who find themselves at risk.
A UNESCO report earlier this year warned of grave dangers to press freedom, finding the number of journalists killed in 2022 was 50% higher than in 2021.
“Every day, courageous journalists around the world put themselves in harm’s way in pursuit of truth and accountability,” the Senators write in the letter. “They help inform and educate citizens and shine a light on abuses of power. It is in our national interest and consistent with American values to stand up for press freedom and the safety of journalists.”
Sen. Ossoff is joined by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Peter Welch (D-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Ed Markey (D-MA).
The letter was endorsed by Reporters without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists, James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, and World Association of News Publishers.
“At the White House Correspondents Dinner, President Biden proclaimed, ‘Journalism is not a crime.’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed the administration’s commitment on World Press Freedom onstage with RSF at the Washington Post Live. Increasing State Department funding for journalist safety is a concrete way for the Biden Administration to follow up these strong words with even stronger action,” said Clayton Weimers, U.S. Bureau Executive Director of Reporters without Borders.
“The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation supports additional Senate funding of journalist safety programs and applauds Senator Ossoff’s leadership in promoting media freedom. Since the murder of journalist Jim Foley in Syria in 2014, the Foley Foundation has developed and distributed free journalist safety training programs that are currently used in more than 20 universities around the U.S. and will expand to six Lebanese universities this fall,” said Diane Foley, president & founder of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. “Journalists worldwide are under increasing threats of censorship, detention, and violence, and further funding journalist safety training is an investment in the health of democracy at home and around the globe.”
“World Press Freedom Day is a moment to celebrate the achievements and reflect on the sacrifices being made by journalists and media organizations across the globe. But they are facing an unprecedented range and punishing intensity of threats that make it harder to be a journalist today than at any previous time,” said Andrew Heslop, Executive Director for Press Freedom at the World Association of News Publishers. “It is crucial for all those who believe in the fundamental value of a free, independent press to the cause of democracy to demonstrate – through action and deed – their willingness to stand up for press freedom and better protect journalists and the media they work for. We support all efforts to raise these critical issues and therefore applaud Senator Ossoff in his determination to ensure they remain on the agenda at the highest level.”
Sen. Ossoff continues to be a champion for press freedom at home and abroad. Before being elected to the U.S. Senate, Sen. Ossoff produced internationally broadcast investigations of war crimes, official corruption, and organized crime.
Last fall, Sen. Ossoff led a bipartisan group of Senators calling on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the United States’ UN Delegation to push for the creation a new Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Safety of Journalists.
He also led an effort with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) to demand accountability for the killing of an American Journalist in the West Bank and questioned Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearings to reiterate her commitments to freedoms of speech and of the press.
Click here to read Sen. Ossoff’s letter.