This morning, Secretary Clinton spoke about the urgent and critical need to protect journalists at a special session at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) 2023 Meeting. She was joined by Jeanne Bourgault, President and CEO of Internews, Jodie Ginsberg, President of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Almar Latour, the CEO of The Wall Street Journal, Dana Perino, Co-Anchor of America’s Newsroom and Co-Host of The Five on FOX News, and Jason Rezaian, Opinion Columnist at the Washington Post.
The session, Journalism On The Frontlines: How Protecting Freedom Of The Press Supports All Human Rights, examined how journalists handle emerging challenges and solutions that demand urgent attention; how journalists handle threats to their profession and their livelihoods; and how we can support a vibrant journalism sector.
“The issue of protecting and promoting a free press in the United States and around the world is critical to all of us, to our democracy, to our sense of security and freedom,” said Secretary Clinton. “The ongoing assault on journalists around the world has to be elevated to the urgency that it requires.” Remarking on what she called the “unlawful, inexcusable” imprisonment of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in Russia, Secretary Clinton asserted, “We have to do more to not only help free Evan but to protect and speak out on behalf of those journalists who are on the front lines.”
During the session, Internews, an international nonprofit supporting independent media globally, announced a new Commitment to Action. CEO Jeanne Bourgault launched the $10 million Internews Risk and Response Fund, “designed to protect the lives and livelihood of local journalists all around the world.” Bourgault added, “Our democracy, our people, and our planet need trustworthy information to survive – and we are immensely grateful to the Clinton Global Initiative for standing with us in our mission to support the truth and those who report it.”
During the session, panelists discussed the importance of freedom of the press and spoke out about the growing danger to journalists around the world. Kicking off the panel, Fox News’ Dana Perino told the audience, “Our founders put the first amendment there for a reason. It’s first because it is so critical.”
Underscoring the challenges faced by journalists reporting on authoritarian regimes, Wall Street Journal CEO Almar Latour told the story of Evan Gershkovich. He remarked, “The grassroots effort and the support of all of you give every day – that is so important to keep this a priority… The wrong thing to do is to not respond, Evan was there doing his job, we’re loud about it, he’s absolutely doing the right thing.”
President of the Committee to Protect Journalists Jodie Ginsberg noted that the threats to journalists have increased exponentially. “The most important thing we can do is remind people why journalism is important,” she said and continue to speak out against any government practices that restrict the free press.
Washington Post columnist Jason Rezaian, who was imprisoned in Iran between 2014 and 2016, told the audience, “The question should be, what are we doing to make this costlier for regimes like Iran, like Russia, like China, to do this again?” Rezaian added that when journalists are forced to flee and find refuge in free countries, it’s imperative to do anything and everything possible to help them continue their crucial work.
“There are incredible journalists from these countries that are now out in the free world – we have to figure out ways to get them involved.”