July 27, 2023

Young, Schatz Reintroduce Legislation to Protect Journalists, Promote Press Freedom Around the World

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reintroduced legislation to promote press freedom and the protection of journalists worldwide. The Global Press Freedom Act would direct the U.S. State Department to establish an Ambassador-at-Large for Press Freedom and train Foreign Service Officers on methods to help promote media independence and protect foreign journalists.

“Freedom of the press is essential to democracy, good governance, and holding those in power accountable. This principle was enshrined in our founding documents for that reason. Our proposal will empower American diplomats to support a free press around the globe,” said Senator Young.

“Our democracy depends on the ability of journalists to ask tough questions, dig for the truth, and report what they find — without fear of violence or persecution. Freedom of the press is a priority in our founding documents, and it must be a cornerstone of our domestic and foreign policy. Our bill reasserts our commitment to a free press at home and abroad, empowering the State Department to engage with these issues diplomatically on the world stage,” said Senator Schatz.   

In addition to Young and Schatz, the Global Press Freedom Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Press freedom has faced a staggering global decline in recent years. According to Reporters Without Borders’ 2023 World Press Freedom Index, the environment for journalism is “satisfactory” or better in just three out of 10 countries.

The Global Press Freedom Act aims to institutionalize America’s commitment to advancing press freedom abroad. The legislation would create an Ambassador-at-Large for Press Freedom, who would be tasked with engaging with foreign governments and organizations, drawing attention to violations of press freedom and reporter safety, and ensuring each country’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices prioritizes press freedom in its “Free Expression” section. The bill would also establish a press freedom curriculum in the training of Foreign Service Officers, empowering them to assist in the protection of journalists and press freedom while stationed overseas.

The Young-Schatz legislation is supported by PEN America, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Freedom House.

The full text of the bill is available here.