United States believes that free expression is not just an American right -- it is a universal human right.
Thomas Jefferson – the United States' first secretary of state and third president – wrote, "The will of the people...is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object."
But the United States believes that free expression is not just an American right -- it is a universal human right. As U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine said in a recent speech to university students in Georgia, “information is the oxygen that a free and civilized society needs to breathe. Without it societies suffocate.”
In Georgia the media environment is still evolving, and facing many challenges. The press is often criticized for being unprofessional, and independent regional media outlets continue to struggle. With elections pending, it’s critically important that the Georgian media provide fair and balanced media coverage, so voters can make an informed choice.
In order to provide Georgians with access to a wider variety of media outlets, the U.S. Agency for International Development is funding the Georgian Media Enhance Democracy, Informed Citizenry, and Accountability program, or G-MEDIA. This 12.9 million dollar program aims to improve the Georgian public’s access to a range of sources of news and information by developing a more politically balanced, editorially independent, professional, and viable media sector that reaches audiences across Georgia through diverse delivery channels.
The United States recognizes that its own media serves a valuable role as a government watchdog to ensure that people’s fundamental freedoms are being protected. The United States echoes these values in its promotion of media freedom and journalistic professionalism throughout the world.
In Georgia, that includes sending Georgian news teams to the United States to cover major events such as the November presidential elections; building partnerships between U.S. and Georgian media outlets; and establishing a journalism program between the Georgia Institute for Public Affairs Media School and the University of South Carolina.
The United States looks forward to working with the Georgian Government, civil society, and media organizations to promote a free and independent media in Georgia. Free expression is democracy’s first line of defense.