August 29, 2019
Let me just say a few words of welcome here to everyone who has come to join us this afternoon.
I’m very pleased that this group got together. This is an important news day in Kyiv! And you’ve joined us here – several of us, probably several of us – will probably go back to the Rada later on this evening because I’m told they’re going to work all night. And I’m sure you’ll all be there to cover it.
We wanted to have this session tonight so that we can get together with journalists who are doing really important work for Ukraine, and for broader than Ukraine.
I don’t have to tell this crowd, but media is the fourth pillar – the fourth branch – of a democratic society, after the judicial, the executive, and the legislative branches.
Ethical, objective journalism is what keeps governments honest. It’s also important in this day, in this age when there’s fake news, when there is information coming from all over, some of which is designed to misinform as opposed to inform.
And I believe that one of the best defenses against this disinformation is free and transparent media.
So one of the most respected, one of my favorite authors is a historian at Yale, Timothy Snyder, who has written a book called The Road to Unfreedom. Which, I see some nods around the room; people have read this – read his book. And those of you who have read this – and those of you who will read it – will see that the dedication that he writes in the beginning of his book is to journalists. He calls journalists the heroes of our time. So we want to stand with the heroes of our time, and we’re standing with you. We’re glad you’re here this evening.
We have some programs, which I hope you will have an opportunity to talk to people about here this evening. One of these programs is called the Media Development Fund. And this allows media outlets to seek funding for reporting on projects in Ukraine and other efforts that will strengthen their work. And I understand that there are some grantees in this room from the Media Fund. Is that true? I see some nods again, in the back. Raise your hands. You should talk to these folks.
We also provide funds for Ukrainian journalists that want to travel to the United States. They conduct their own independent reporting on topics that they and their audiences are interested in, and there are a wide range of topics.
We also provide funding for journalists from other European countries to travel to Ukraine to meet with officials, civil society, reporters like you, and to get firsthand knowledge about Ukraine. And anybody who would like more information about those programs should see some of our press people, several of whom are in the room here. Raise your hands so everybody knows [muffled]. Alright, very good. [laughter]
Journalism, in particular in Ukraine, but in other places in the world – sometimes it’s challenging, sometimes it’s dangerous. So while I am very pleased to see everyone here, we remember that there are some people that are not here: Georgiy Gongadze, Pavel Sheremet, Kateryna Handziuk, Stanislav Asayev, and others who have been detained by Russians.
So we take the opportunity tonight to welcome you, to be encouraged by you, inspired by you. We want to support you in your work.
Thank you very much for coming. Enjoy the evening and enjoy each other.