"Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it." So said Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States. It is in this spirit that the U.S. State Department sponsors the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists. Since its inception in 2006, the program has welcomed more than 750 foreign reporters to the United States to study journalistic principles and practices. One-hundred fifty journalists from 125 countries are currently in the U.S. for the 2010 session.
Participants meet in Washington and then travel in smaller groups for academic seminars and field activities with faculty and students at one of the partner schools of journalism. The United States believes that professional development for journalists is important because a free press is critical to safeguarding democracy. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted, "A free press is essential to an empowered citizenry, government accountability and responsible economic development. Wherever independent media are under threat, accountable governance and human freedom are undermined."
Edward R. Murrow is an important figure in the history of American journalism. He pioneered broadcast journalism, from his radio reports on London rooftops during World War II to his television reporting in the 1950s. In 1961, Mr. Murrow accepted the position as head of the United States Information Agency. Mr. Murrow believed in a free press. And he summed up his philosophy this way: "To be persuasive, we must be believable, we must be credible; to be credible, we must be truthful."
This is not an easy task, as many parts of the world remain very dangerous for journalists. Over 700 reporters have been killed since World Press Freedom Day was established in 1948. The majority of victims were reporters covering topics such as crime, corruption, and national security in their home countries.
As Secretary Clinton stated on World Press Freedom Day this year, "The United States is committed to working in partnership with members of the media, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and other concerned governments to defend freedom of expression and the brave journalists who are persecuted for exercising it on the challenging new terrain of the 21st century."