Senate resolution recognizes World Press Freedom Day

The resolution sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) drew the support of 10 other senators across both sides of the aisle, from elder statesmen like Sens. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to the freshman Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-DE). Representing constituents from the Great Lakes to the North Atlantic to the Okefenokee swamplands, they and other senators came together to not only celebrate and evaluate press freedom around the globe, but to also, in the words of the resolution that they co-sponsored in honor of World Press Freedom Day on Sunday, “defend the media from attacks on the independence of the media, and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.”

The resolution passed by unanimous consent late Thursday night on the Senate floor, and it quoted several press freedom monitors and other groups: “[A]t least 109 journalists and other media workers were killed in 2008,” according to the International Federation of Journalists, the Brussels-based global trade union federation; “nearly 3 out of 4 journalists killed in the line of duty are murdered, and the killers go unpunished in nearly 9 out of 10 cases,” according to CPJ, an entirely independently funded nongovernmental organization; “in 2008, 673 journalists were arrested, 929 journalists were physically attacked or threatened, and 29 journalists were kidnapped,” according to the Paris-based monitoring group Reporters Without Borders; and “press freedom has been declining during recent years in both authoritarian countries and established democracies,” according to Freedom House, which is based in Washington.

The bipartisan Senate statement further “calls on the President and the Secretary of State to develop means by which the United States can more rapidly identify, publicize and respond to threats against press freedom around the world.”