As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day 2020, the role of a free and independent press is more important than ever. This year’s theme, “Journalism without Fear or Favor,” sets the tone as the global community unites to fight against COVID-19, and as the press rallies to inform the public about social distancing, handwashing, and other prevention techniques. Journalists, your commitment to investigate and report on the news impartially, without fear or favor, is critical in all our democracies. This year’s sub-themes — the safety of journalists and media workers; independent and professional journalism free from political and commercial influence; and gender equality in all aspects of the media — are also important for all of us. The United States will always emphasize our commitment to promoting and protecting a free press, because the media plays such an essential role in preserving democracy and, as we can witness these days, in saving lives.
We recognize that current health protocols have no doubt changed the way you work. We commend you for your continued commitment to ensuring transparency, informing citizens, and fighting disinformation in the face of this pandemic. Public health emergencies, such as the outbreak of COVID-19 are stressful times for communities; fear and anxiety about a disease can lead to social stigma or discrimination. Your role in committing to compassion, empathy, and respect for all during these challenging times is essential. The United States stands with you and honors you every day of the year, but especially today, World Press Freedom Day.