About the Event
Media’s vital role in healthy, democratic societies is unquestionable–yet only a minority of the world’s citizens enjoy access to this fundamental resource. Freedom House reports that just 13 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with a free press, with hard-won gains in press freedom often being reversed in recent years. The fight for independent media has never been more urgent.
As we celebrated World Press Freedom Day, the Center for International Media Assistance and the International Forum for Democratic Studies heard from those who know the complex challenges facing press freedom best: the media professionals battling every day for the right to free and independent speech in illiberal settings around the world. Six current and former Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows–joining us from Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Iraq, and Kenya–discussed pressing challenges for the media in their home countries, why theirs is a fight worth fighting, and what can be done to help them succeed in promoting free press.
Nawaf Haskan, Yazidi journalist, cultural advisor, and a former translator for RYOT and the Huffington Post
Raul Peñaranda, journalist, author, and advocate for freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Bolivia
César Ricaurte, co-founder and executive director of the Andean Foundation for Social Observation and Study of the Media (FUNDAMEDIOS) based in Quito
Ashif Rabi, Bangladeshi journalist, TV personality, radio jockey, and blogger
James Smart, journalist, prime-time television anchor, and talk-show host based in Nairobi
Simegnish Mengesha (Lily), journalist, media consultant, and former director of the Ethiopian Environment Journalists Association
Shanthi Kalathil, Director, International Forum for Democratic Studies, National Endowment for Democracy