Freedom of the press around the world is in grave danger. With threats of violence against journalists continuing to rise, safeguarding press freedom has never been more critical to the health of democratic and informed societies and the people who live in them. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a total of 348 journalists were detained for providing news and information in 2018.
On April 18, The Washington Post and Reporters Without Borders, the world’s largest non-governmental organization specializing in the defense of media freedom, held a conversation on freedom of the press around the world.
  • Apr 18
A Plea for Press Freedom
In a short video, veteran Philippine journalist Maria Ressa delivers a message about the importance of protecting press freedom.
  • Apr 18
Presentation of the 2019 World Press Freedom Index
Reporters Without Borders reveals the findings of the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, measuring the degree of freedom that journalists and news organizations enjoy in more than 180 countries.
  • Apr 18
U.S. declines again in RSF's World Press Freedom Index, falls to ‘problematic’ status
For the third time in three years, the United States’ standing in the annual Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index declined - from number 45 to 48 - a result the report’s authors attributed to President Trump’s anti-press rhetoric and continuing threats to journalists.
Sabine Dolan
Interim Executive Director, Reporters Without Borders
Sabine Dolan is the interim executive director of Reporters Without Borders where she focuses on the intersection of journalism and technology. Throughout her wide-ranging career, Sabine has brought her deep international experience to broadcasting, film production, and humanitarian and philanthropic efforts. She has been at the front lines in humanitarian emergencies, international development and human rights. Multicultural and multilingual, Sabine worked with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in New York, Geneva and in the field including emergencies deployments in numerous natural disaster zones and conflict and post-conflict countries. More recently, Sabine has served as a consultant to international philanthropic, media and tech sectors on cause marketing, global partnerships and finding innovative solutions for social impact.
Interviewed by Mary Jordan
The Washington Post
Pathways to Press Freedom
Ambassadors from two countries with disparate rankings on the press freedom index and a prominent free speech thought leader discuss the state of press freedom around the world and the opportunities and challenges ahead.
  • Apr 18
Ethiopia jumped 40 spots on this year’s World Press Freedom Index, an accomplishment that has been credited to the work of the newly elected Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. But Fitsum Arega Gebrekidan, the Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States, says there’s still work to be done in many areas to ensure the deepening of the country’s democracy.
  • Apr 18
Knight First Amendment Institute Director Jameel Jaffer believes journalists, particularly investigative reporters, should be concerned about the indictment against Julian Assange . “The indictment describes all these things that Julian Assange is alleged to have done, and almost all of those things…are things that legitimate journalists do everyday.”
  • Apr 18
Fitsum Arega Gebrekidan
Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States
Fitsum Arega Gebrekidan presently is Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States of America. Previously, he served as the Commissioner of the Ethiopian Investment Commission(EIC) following his appointment in November 2018. From April to December 2018, Mr. Fitsum served as Chief of Staff to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and steered the Prime Minister’s Office to a series of transformational economic and democratic reforms. In this capacity, Mr. Fitsum also effectively brought in to a working eco-system his background as former Investment Commissioner to help introduce economic policy changes applauded by constituents, local and international investors, the private sector, multilateral institutions, and bi-lateral partners.
Karin Olofsdotter
Ambassador of Sweden to the United States
Her Excellency Karin Olofsdotter took up her post as Ambassador of Sweden to the United States on September 1, 2017. Before her assignment to Washington, D.C. she served as Director-General for Trade at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Sweden from September 1, 2016. Ambassador Olofsdotter has also held the position of Deputy Director-General and Head of the Department for Promotion of Sweden, Trade and CSR in Stockholm in the two years prior. Ambassador Olofsdotter has a B.A. in psychology, economics and Russian. She studied at UCLA Anderson School of Management and speaks Russian, French and English. She is married and has a son and a daughter.
Jameel Jaffer
Inaugural Director, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University
Jameel Jaffer is inaugural director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. He previously served as deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, where he oversaw the organization’s work on free speech, privacy, technology, national security, and international human rights. While at the ACLU, he led or co-led litigation teams that compelled the Bush administration to disclose the “torture memos,” compelled the Obama administration to disclose the “drone memos,” and compelled the National Security Agency to abandon its dragnet surveillance of Americans’ call records. His recent writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, and the Yale Law Journal Forum.
Perspectives on Freedom of the Press Around the Globe
Journalists discuss the challenges of reporting both here at home and in the world’s hot spots where members of the press risk their personal safety in order to get the story.
  • Apr 18
Veteran journalist and former CBS White House Correspondent Bill Plante says United States’ decline on the World Press Freedom Index is not surprising given President Trump’s influence and rhetoric.
  • Apr 18
Jessikka Aro says her investigative reporting on Russian propaganda led to a surge in fake stories meant to damage her reputation, and those stories agitated real people who knew her previously into hating her.
  • Apr 18
ANZAFRIKA’s Chouchou Namegabe says when she started to write about rape in Congo, ‘there was no word for rape.’ But she quickly realized she could use her microphone as ‘a weapon’ to raise awareness and combat the use of rape as a weapon of war.
  • Apr 18
To improve the state of press freedom around the world, former CBS White House Correspondent Bill Plante says reporters need to keep working to share the truth. ‘All we have is the truth,’ he said.
  • Apr 18
Chouchou Namegabe
Founder and CEO, ANZAFRIKA
Chouchou Namegabe is an outspoken Congolese radio journalist, and the co-founder and former director of AFEM- South Kivu Women’s Media Association. In the late 1990s, when the DRC was overcome by violence, Chouchou turned the airwaves into a form of activism. She taught herself radio journalism, reporting on the widespread use of rape as a weapon of war. Her reporting got the attention of the international community and mobilized action on the horrific violence in Eastern Congo. In a place where freedom of the press is abused, and reporters are targeted, Chouchou and AFEM have been working hard at training a rising generation of women journalists, empowering rural women to become community leaders and bringing the world’s attention on violence against women in the Congo. Currently, Chouchou is dedicated to launching Anzafrika, a ground-breaking initiative to promote human rights and sustainable economic empowerment of SGBV survivors in the Great Lakes through impact investment
Jessikka Aro
Investigative Reporter, Finnish Broadcasting Company
Jessikka Aro is an award-winning investigative reporter with the Finnish Broadcasting Company. Aro specializes in Russia, extremism and information warfare. In 2014, she started to investigate the pro-Kremlin social media trolls techniques and influence on public debates outside Russia's borders. Her reports are widely quoted and used in troll investigations internationally. Due to her investigations, she became the target of serious and still ongoing international propaganda and hate speech. Currently, Aro is writing an investigative book about the Kremlin's information warfare, and trains reporters and the general public to recognize and counter online disinformation. Aro is also lobbying for better legislation to counter hybrid threats and protect citizens from state-sponsored online security threats. In 2019, the U.S. State Department was about to honor her work with the International Women of Courage award, but later rescinded, reportedly due to her tweets that were critical of President Trump.
Bill Plante
Former White House Correspondent, CBS News
Bill Plante retired as a CBS News correspondent in November 2016 after 52 years. Plante was a CBS News White House correspondent during the administrations of Ronald Reagan (beginning in 1981), Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. During the administration of the first President Bush, he was CBS News’ State Department correspondent. Plante’s reports were seen regularly on “CBS This Morning,” and the “CBS Evening News.” Plante’s reporting has not been restricted to politics, however. He covered the fall of Skylab and Pope John Paul II’s visit to the United States, both in 1979. He also covered the civil rights movement in Mississippi and Alabama, including Dr. Martin Luther King's historic march from Selma to Montgomery.
Interviewed by Mary Jordan
The Washington Post
About Washington Post Live
Washington Post Live is the newsroom’s live journalism platform. Top-level government and business leaders, emerging voices and newsmakers discuss the most pressing national and global issues of the day.
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