U.S. Embassy Monrovia joins journalists the world over to celebrate World Press Freedom Day today, May 3. Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are core values of democratic nations, including the United States and Liberia. An independent media is an essential pillar of responsive and accountable democracies. Journalism plays a crucial role in combatting corruption, drawing attention to human rights abuses, and providing the public with accurate information.
Freedom of expression remains under threat in many parts of the world as authoritarian regimes use intimidation of the media and internet shutdowns, among other tactics, to prevent criticism, accountability, and transparency. Fortunately, Liberia’s media environment has never been freer, although economic difficulties cause some media houses to self-censor. As Ambassador Michael McCarthy said of his recent press statement, however, while hailing the vibrancy of the Liberian media, “I’ve lived in many many countries where that statement would not have been issued at all.”
As we celebrate the media’s essential contribution to Liberia’s democracy, we also remind journalists in Liberia and everywhere to stay true to ethics. Accurate, clear, and fair reporting that seeks to inform the public should be the standard. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. Without credibility, media cannot contribute to a healthy democracy but rather provoke distrust and the spread of misinformation.
At a dinner with White House correspondents on April 29, U.S. President Joe Biden said, “The free press is a pillar — maybe the pillar — of a free society, not the enemy… You [the media] make it possible for ordinary citizens to question authority and, yes, even to laugh at authority without fear or intimidation.”
The U.S. Embassy Monrovia supports independent media through a variety of programs, including exchange programs, visiting expert speakers, and training opportunities. USAID Liberia’s Media Activity project, which is implemented by Internews, aims to enhance the human and institutional capacity of the media sector while advocating for and maintaining current media freedoms to reliably carry out responsible journalism, drive reforms, and increase revenue.
We wish everyone a happy World Press Freedom Day and encourage all to recognize the value of a free media.