tv Journalists Discuss 2019 World Press Freedom Report CSPAN April 18, 2019 9:01am-10:04am EDT
we've got a great reception planned afterwards. if i ask the audience to exit the rear doors and allow our panel members to go out the side door and you'll have a great opportunity to chat with them over a drink in the next room. thank you all for attending and thanks for this wonderful panel. [applaus [applause]. [inaudible conversations] >> welcome and thank you for joining us for this important discussion on press freedom around the world. every year, reporters without borders, the world's largest nongovernmental organization devoted to protecting the rights of journalists compiles the world press freedom index. this is reported as a massive
undertaking. presents exhaustive research into 180 different countries. among the index's many valuable features is its indication of important changes and trends, raising alarm where press freedom is in decline and acknowledging areas of improvement. sadly, as we know too well, this is a growing time for danger for journalism. as the report indicates, journalists around the world are encountering censorship, harassment, violence every day just for doing their jobs. and every reason of the world, tyrants are increasing their grip on the press, trying to prevent reporters from holding the powerful to account. this year's index highlights a particularly disturbing trend in the americas, many countries have seen declines in the press freedom rankings, including the united states. at "the washington post," we take the cause of press freedom
seriously. we are no strangers to assault on journalists as we've seen in the case of jason, and jamal khashoggi. it's a reminder of the dangers they face. through the partnership initiative announced last year we've made a sustained long-term commitment of raising awareness of cases like these. these abuses are unacceptable to everyone who appreciates democratic values and human rights. free societies rely on the free flow of information that citizens need to make the most important decisions. how to vote, where to invest, where to travel, whom to trust. to make the decisions we need accurate information not only about our country, but others around the world. and it's an assault on liberty everywhere. today's event features several accomplished journalists on the
front lines of the fight for journalistic independence and others on press freedom. we're also fortunate to be joined by people who have a positive story to tell. "the washington post" will moderate a sdugs-- discussion with the ambassador from ethiopia, moving up 40 spaces on the list. the ambassador of speeden which consistently ranks high on the index of press freedom. they'll share some lessons about their country's success in fostering saver environments for journalists. and join correspondent mary jordan to release the 2019 index and discuss findings. before we begin, i'd like to thank reporters without borders for partnering with us on today's event as well as the northwestern university school of journalism. we'll begin with a video featuring filipino journalist,
arrested by the government filipino strong man. maria is released from jail and has a timely message about the importance of press freedom around the world. >> good morning, i'm maria. thank you so much for listening to our story. we know journalists are under attack globally and the attacks are coming, enabled by technology, through social media, bottom up. and a lie told a million times is the truth. and that would top down statements by authoritarian style leaders attacking not just our leaders, but us. we've seen them rolling back democracy all around the world. i've been a journalist more than 30 years and never seen a year like 2018. in little more than 13 months filipino government filed cases
against me, and i've posted bail eight times and arrested twice and detained once to try to intimidate us to silence. how do we fight back? with the facts. with data. that gives us the grounding to be able to push back and demand our rights. the world press freedom index is a therm-- a global thermometer how do we fight back. you in the room today, my survival depends on your attention. the way we fight back as journalists, is we shine the light. we call attention, we demand our rights. please join us in this battle. [applaus [applause] >> hello, i'm mary jordan, i'm a national correspondent for "the washington post" and spent many, many years running around the world as a foreign correspondent. i'm delighted this morning to
introduce our guest, sabine dolan, the executive director of reporters without boarders, she's going to talk to us about the 2019 report on world press freedom. and what this index is, looked at 180 countries around the world and said, how do they rank? when you look at the ability of the press to give information to the public. now, let's take a look. right at the top of the list, not a huge surprise, norway, finland, sweden. consistently up there, why is that? >> these are our kind of index olympians. they typically hold the top spots of our index. and press freedoms are longstanding tradition and these countries and reflected in their constitution and shared values, cultural values.
you may remember when president trump was visiting helsinki in july, 2018, there were billboards from the airport to the city that said, welcome, mr. president, to the land of the free press. >> wow. >> more on that later this morning. let's take a look at the bottom of the list. north korea, turkmenistan right there at the bottom of 180 countries. tell us about-- >> yeah, we've nicknamed the intern internal three the infernal trio because they've held the bottom spots for many years. they're essentially information black holes. turkmenistan this year was dropped to the last position. this is a reflection of the violent crackdown on the few remaining journalists reporting
clandestinely, and north korea, often been at the last position, went up by one position this year just to reflect kim jong-un's openness or just a little bit of progress in the openness through his meetings with foreign leaders. >> but you see in these countries that people often have to go to the border to try to get information coming in from airwaves, from outside of the borders, complete black hole. how about the united states? what's the news this year? >> well, the united states dropped three positions this year, and for the first time, its ranking has been downgraded from satisfactory to problematic and this in the country of the first amendment. you know, there was, obviously, the tragic news room shooting of four journalists and a member of staff at the capitol gazette in annapolis. the president's anti-press,
relentless anti-press rhetoric has also contributed to the climate. >> when you have the president of the united states calling the journalists the enemy of the people, do you think you're seeing that it matters? >> i think that when this becomes constant, it's almost normalized and percolates to a large segment of the population and this is how it's contributed to create this climate of fear for journalis journalists, which is the theme of this year's index. >> the problematic state. it's actually quite surprising that it's-- it was even 45 last year. had it dropped last year from before? >> yes, it did. so, it's been gradually dropping. how would you describe it was 43 in 2017, 45 in 2018 and now this year it's 48. what does that mean for the
american public? >> well, i think this has-- this has an impact on all of us, even in terms of, you know, in terms of information and access to information, which is a backbone of democracy. so, this has-- this is significant. you know, america was always seen as the beacon of press freedom, not only here, but around the world and this has had negative repercussions in different countries, especially if you think of the labeling of fake news, which has been used in authoritarian regimes around the world, from the philippines, we just saw maria speak, from putin in russia and-- >> i've certainly seen that working in other countries, in asia. journalists would come up and say, i can't publish this, but if "the washington post" does, then we can say "the washington post" published these things.
and i know firsthand and in my bones how we have really been a beacon at the american press for other countries so it's stunning to see that we're so low in the pack. let's go back to the world index, your report. numbers are kind of stunning. how many journalists were killed last year? >> yeah, well, last year, we had 80 journalists who were killed across the world, 348 were detained and 60 were held hostages. >> whoa. >> so right as we speak, there's-- there are over 300 journalists in jail for writing something. it's a stunning and an important figure and we're grateful that all of you showed up today because it's, you know, it's the fourth estate to keep checks and balances on the other branches of power, as famously said that power corrupts and absolutely power is absolutely corrupting. let's look at some of the other
headlines. when you look at the world map there, we saw black spaces, and in fact, many of the places here that have the worst records have r have dictators, basically running the show, is that right? tell us about the worst places in the world. >> well, you see this -- the black zone. the middle east and north africa are the most dangerous places to be a journalist. so they are-- they hold the last place in our index. this is due in large part to the wars in the region, but also to authoritarian leaders crashing at the arab spring a few years ago. if you look at, you know, outside of these black zones, you have other countries like venezuela, which has also this
year been affected by the, you know, by the authoritarian regime of president maduro. >> and they dropped in the spot. some of the other big movements, let's talk about those. there was some central african republic dropped 33 slots. tanzania 24, awn down now with ortega running the show and being a leader cracking down on press. hungary, also bad news. >> yeah, nicaragua saw the steepest fall in the americas, which was the most-- the one that had the steepest fall this year. there's been a big crackdown in nicaragua on independent media. there were a lot of protests where journalists were systematically considered the opposition and were attacked. there were some journalists who were jailed on terrorism charges.
hungary is another interesting place. prime minister basically controls the media and such a critical extent, media can't access government officials, press conferences and this, in turn, has an affect in even their ability to get funding and this is a break landscape for europe. >> so the advertisers don't want to be associated with the press because government will then pressure. how about china and turkey? >> yeah, well, china's model of internet control, censorship and cyber surveillance is gradually being adopted by a lot of the neighboring countries. and this is, whether you're talking about countries like vietnam or countries even like
cambodia, singapore. it's having an impact as far as africa. so this is something when-- >> when you say cyber control, what do you mean? what are they doing? >> the regime controls the internet, controls all the information that is being communicated, access, people's access to websites are curtailed. there's just-- it's just-- >> it's just sensored. is there anything critical that you don't get the information. >> you don't get it. the other element about china is that 60 journalists and bloggers are being detained in horrible conditions. so, this is another noteworthy element. >> there have been some good news. tell us about the significant rises. >> well, yeah, you see it here. we were talking earlier about this black zone in the middle east and north africa.
tunisia was a very positive and was an exception and a positive case. this is a reflection of the president's commitment to press freedom. if you look at armenia, they're also in a very bad zone regarding press freedom in our index. armenia has jumped 19 points, this was-- these changes that you see there are often the change of-- a reflection of change of government. and this applies to ethiopia-- >> in fact, often the one leader in charge can change a country. >> exactly, exactly. and this was the case in ethiopia, which jumped 40 points. for the first time in-- >> 40 points. well, it's nice to have some good news. isn't it? and we're going to actually bring on the next panel that's going to talk further about good news and then we're going to come back again with another discussion, but i just-- before we leave the stage, when you look at the index for 2019, what is the state of journalist
around the world? >> well, that's one point. the scene this year is fear and the state of journalism, press freedom around the world are declining and this is really a matter of grave concern to us. it's declining all over the world, but also, in the traditional press freedom ally, if you want, countries in europe and countries like here in the united states. it's a stunning picture. thank you very much. >> thank you so much. >> we're going to go to good news about what's going on and that people are doing right and then we're going to come back and talk about the states and some of the way forward. thanks very much. >>. [applause] . >> i think all journalists are in the same boat. we all have to call for democracy and activists for democracy until we have democracy in every environment.
for literally half my life and i also teach journalism at university of maryland where i have my students profile in prison journalists and allowed me to understand just how bad parts of the world are. but today we have a mixed group. we're calling them the pre-mueller report report. if you stick around long enough we might release the report before you leave. let's see. i'd like to introduce to my left ambassador old's daughter from sweden, one of the countries with the best rights record. very happy to have his excellency, the ambassador from ethiopia here. one of the countries that have really made the most improvement in the last-- in the last year or two and then jamil jaffer, probably familiar it most of you here, executive director of the new
knight institute with the university and long time with the a.c.l.u. welcome, everybody. >> thank you. >> i wanted to start with the ambassador. ethiopia, for the first time in almost 15 years has no prisoners. has no journalists in prison. it's unblocked most of its previously blocked sites, which is hundreds. and it is allowing now bloggers and nongovernmental journalists to report. so, it's really, aside from tunisia, probably the brightest light in the world right now. so, i want to applaud you for that. >> thank you. [applause] >> we were speaking on the phone about the situation there and he was talking about capacity building being something that is in need right now. can you talk, please, a little bit more about that? >> thank you so much, first of all i'm delighted to be here.
this is my third week as ambassador-- . [laughter] >> so, i was privileged to be chief of staff of this reformist prime minister. i've seen, i'm a witness what he's been doing since he game to power in april 2018. it took him just 100 days to reverse some of the challenges, human rights issues freedom that we're criticized for so long by human rights watch dogs and different international media. so, i think he's now taking us in the right direction. it's been championing everything through due process of law and now we had a serious
problem in terms of accommodating this, exercising democracy, so it's part of the whole democratic process that we need, capacity building and also freedom of press is the main one to deepen our democracy. journalists, we're in the free in many ways. and we need capacity building in terms of how to use the press responsibly. at the same time, how to balance and also the people at large, we're not aware of how to understand everything comes out from media. they get easily confused in countries where you have stable democracy.
you judge what is in it. you cross reference. you take second opinion, but that's not the case in ethiopia. so, i think it's really to-- the experience and takes time to trickle down to the community society. and education is very important and also, press freedom plays, you know, most of the-- so we need capacity in many areas. in delivering the news and creating different platforms, unless we're forced to a different environment. unless we get a chance to debate. there's no way any other shortcuts to get to what is to be. so there are many areas that we need. >> so i noticed that facebook
is the largest social platform, social media platform and we know that that has caused a lot of trouble in other countries where it was newly introduced. have you had discussions about them about trying to damp down hate speech or disinformation, which is, unfortunately, a problem not just in ethiopia, but everywhere now? >> yes. i think social media has created a wonderful platform for people like ethiopia to penetrate the majority of people because it's an easy infrastructure and media of transforming-- i mean, passing information. as connectivity is growing, that's highly welcomed. but the negative side of social media like facebook, and others, there are faceless people who can say anything they want, hate speeches, that incites violence and in some
cases they take it for granted and create some conflicts in some cases and that creates some panic, which may grow at alarming-- so i don't think the western countries have also money to deal with this. i think it's a challenge for everyone. but the way the western countries observe and countries like ethiopia is totally different. so, yes, it's important to regulate, but how? and hate speech seen as silencing dissent. we had some challenges in the past, like anti-terrorism law,
society and law which are now totally repealed and replaced by other more modest lows, so it's under discussion whether we have to have hate speech law or not. what is the best practice and how can we not only show that it isn't silence and again, discourage freeway press. we need support on this as well. and we don't want to get back to where we were. we're enjoying what we have, so we want to continue to deepen our democracy. >> well, luckily, we have the leader in the world here on how do you deal with-- >> i think we can really help you. we've been at it for 250 years and i think that-- yes, now that i think that's the one of the reasons why we are ranked so highly because it has been part of our culture
with access to information from the public and we also have the function where government officials like myself cannot get persecuted if we give information to media that's not of course under national security, but everything else. this, of course, builds a trust in society where we always scrutinize our public officials and this has also led to, we're one of the least corrupt countries in the world and also one of the most-- countries in the world. it goes to democracy and the economy and how a country can prosper, if you're going the way that you are going, and this will help you in so many ways. both democracy and economically. of course, we are challenged as well, and we have put in large efforts to educate our public, new program for schools. how do we teach kids to be media literate and how to--
>> is that a mandatory part of the curriculum? >> yes, we only have public schools, with the same curriculum, basically. so we really need to work constantly because now we have a new environment given social media and we need to train our young kids what is real news and what is not real news and how do you-- how do you learn? because it's very difficult, i think, for adults and of course, kids now, they are so tech savvy, they know much more than we do, but this is, i think, something that we constantly need to work on and you, who probably jumped straig straight into social media and technology. >> do you regulate social media or rely on media literacy? >> of course, we have legislation, but that's the same legislation for old media and media, so to speak. so, that has changed. the technology that's
different, but not the contents. so, the legislation doesn't look at technology. >> well, there's been discussions here and elsewhere about the rules regulating the media. we basically have the first amendment. that's our regulator. but, scandinavia, all three countries, i believe, have a media regulator of some sort. can you just broadly-- >> yes, there is an agency, of course, that if you feel that you have been misportrayed or so you can -- you can, how do you say go to that agency and then the journalist can also be, or the media outlet can be, how you say judged or fined, if it's considered that they have been slanting or not portraying the facts correctly. >> is that a government panel? >> it is in sort of a way. it's, of course, funded through the governmental system, but then it's independent like all
of our judicial. >> that would be scary thought here, i think. [laughter] >> so you must do it in some way that we need to study the words there. >> it does. >> finally, you have a program called troll hunters. >> yes. >> yes, and it's like, you know, the program we had, find a predator. it's find the troll and you actually go -- the person figures this out and go with a camera and confront them and so, troll hunting is something that you've been doing for a while? >> no, it's fairly new, actually. i think it's important that week show through public media, who they are and how they operate and this is, of course, part of learning about the system. what is a troll? what does it come from? is it people in our country, in other countries? why do they do it so we have a bigger understanding about it so it's good to have a troll hunting program so you can learn about it. because i think for most of us, it's hard to understand how it operates. >> yes, okay, great.
>> and jameel, we have at swedish ambassador here and i want to talk about julian assange who overlaps in both of these areas. possible extradition back to sweden, talk about that in a minute. what is your take on the arrest, the indictment and how it could play out in the united states vis-a-vis its implications for press freedom here. >> right. well, i guess i should start by saying that the indictment is for a violation of the computer, fraud and abuse act, the hacking statute. and there's, in my view, no argument here that the hacking was constitutionally protected. so the charges themselves in my view don't raise constitutional concerns. >> why? >> the indictment though, the indictment is much broader than the charges. the indictment lists a the
means and manner of the conspiracy, many things that legitimate journalists engage in every day. so, protecting the identity of a source or communicating securely with a source. those kinds of things are presented as evidence of a criminal conspiracy, in fact, the indictment is quite short. you'll see that 90% of it is things that legitimate journalists do every day. so much attention is given to those things, it's hard for the reader not to come away with the impression that the justice department believes that those things are problematic and so, i guess i'm sort of conflicted about the charges. i don't find the charges themselves problematic, but the indictment is quite scary and i think that any journalist who reads that indictment, especially investigative journalists who work on national security issues,
there's no way to do that kind of journalism without doing the very things that the justice department is describing as part of a criminal conspiracy. and then we see that indictment against the background in which the administration, the trump administration here has stepped up leak investigations, has stigmatized whistle blowers, has made clear that the administration will go after journalists who publish classified information or suggested that the administration will go after journalists who go after classified information. so against that background, it's worrying. >> one step backward, you say it's constitutionally protected, which means that you would put assange in the category of a journalist or publishers? >> no, i don't actually think that you need to believe that julian assange is a journalist to be worried about this
indictment. you know, the supreme court here has never distinguished journalists from everybody else from the protection that-- that people get under the first amendment. the protections are the same. and so, there's really no legal relevance to this question of whether julian assange is a journalist or not. i'm not saying it's not a legitimate topic of debate, but it doesn't have any legal relevance. and the indictment doesn't turn on the fact that julian astrange is not a journalist, the indictment is, again, you know, describes all of these things that julian assange is alleged to have done. almost all of those things, not all of them, are legitimate things that journalists do every day. >> okay, i wanted to talk to you about another case, khashoggi case and we talked back in the back a little bit
about the responsibility to warn. and that brings in, you know, possible u.s.-- well, you tell them what that is. >> sure, so, as all of us, unfortunately know, jamal khashoggi was a u.s. resident, a saudi national, a washington post journalist who was murdered in the saudi embassy in inr istanbul last year, and we might have expected the united states to call out this act as the criminal act that it was. that's not what happened. in fact, the trump administration has been very enthusiastic in participating in what looks like a coverup for the killing. one thread in the story that i think hasn't got quite enough attention has to do with the duty to warn, which is a duty that u.s. intelligence agencies
have recognized. if they intercept or acquire evidence that there's a threat to somebody's life or liberty, in the course of surveillance, they're surveilling-- engaged in national security surveillance and run across evidence that somebody, a journalist, for example, is under a threat to his or her life or liberty, then they have an obligation to alert that journalist to the threat. and we, with the knight institute and the committee to protect journal irses have been litigating for the release of records relating to the duty to warn because we want to know what did u.s. intelligence agencies know before the killing about the threat to khashoggi. and if they did know something about the threat to his life and liberty, what did they do about it? thus far, the intelligence agencies for the most part stonewalled that request. they've provided a response
which means they refused to confirm or deny the existence of records responsive to the request. i find that very troubling. the united states on this kind of issue should be at the opposite end of the poll of where we are. we should be calling for accountability. we should be demanding a credible investigation, a transparent investigation, and instead, the most senior american officials are effectively participating in the coverup. >> okay. since we mentioned julian assange. is there an update on whether sweden is considering-- >> the prosecuting agency is looking into the case again to see if there's a case or not for asking for his extradition from the united kingdom and his accusation is rape. it's a sexual crime. >> and so they're reopening the case to look at it or the judge is--
>> yes, they're looking into it again to see. it's kind of a pre-study to a case study. so i guess we will know in a couple of weeks. >> okay. i guess i wanted to end again with the ambassador and ask about whether the environment in the united states especially at the top, vis-a-vis press freedom and embracing that as democracy. does that resonate any way, either negative or positive in ethiopia? >> i think you have a strong leadership which helps you to balance whatever administration comes in and we are, you know, looking to how we can have such a strong an institution so that whoever comes and is -- that's how i say it. >> okay.
well, thank you all for being here. and thank you for coming and we will have our next panel will be following us in just a minute. so we decided know the to release the mueller report and you'll have to wait so stay in your chairs. thank you. [laughter] >> thank you so much. [applaus [applause] >> about the war, its consequences and i remember all those women, all these women, we met, who told their stories. who told that, it was unbelievable. >> every time i went public and told about my investigation, they made new smearing stories and attacked me viciously, just to show me that they were following me and that they would retaliate anytime i would publish a new piece. >> i reported in countries where leaders not only complain about a critical press, but
also tried to shut it down, throwing reporters in prison, or worse. as long as american democracy remains healthy, there will be reporters willing to pursue the truth, even if that means encuring the wrath of most powerful person in the world. >> important topics this morning, freedom of the press, freedom of the press to bring information to the public. i'm mary jordan. i'm back again. i'm a national correspondent for "the washington post." delighted to introduce our guests. we have jessica, award winning investigative reporter, she works for the finnish broadcasting company and what she's had to endure to write about russia's propaganda machine. and we also have from legendary
radio correspondent in the congo. for 20 years she has been talking about something that was once unmentionable, rape as a weapon of war. she's been doing that since 1998, against all kinds of odds and death threats. jonathan carl could not be here this morning because of an unexpectedly busy morning news cycle, but we are really dl delighted to have bill plant here. bill is well-known, a thoughtful person who has been writing about washington politics since nixon's campaign and has a great perspective. in fact, i want to start with bill. what do you make of where the u.s. is and its drop in the index? >> well, previous presidents have always tried to steer news coverage and they've tried to limit press access, now we have
a president who actually threatens press freedom. so we're in a very dangerous place and i'm not at all surprised, given his influence, that the u.s. dropped in the index this year. >> did you see this coming? i mean, was it inevitable? was it changed by who is in the white house or do you see something, having looked for decades covering politics in the united states? >> whether you blame it on this president, depends, i pose, on your own political inclinations, but the fact is, what he has done is to legitimize world-wide this business of beating up on the press and threatening. i mean, here is the president who actively said, it's, quote, frankly disgusting, the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write. excuse me? [laughter] >> we do have the first amendment here, which is either
unaware or uncaring. >> jessica, you're based in helsinki, is that right? >> yes. >> and you have done heroic work, talking about what's going on in russia. can you just give us, tell us what happened to you when you started writing these critical stories from russia. what happens? >> definitely. thank you for the good feedback, it keeps me going. so, in 2014 i started to investigate the then newest phenomena of russia information warfare, the propaganda trolls spreading information nationally. and how-- influence and impact real people's ideas, attitude and even behavior. so, that was my core interest and as soon as i started to investigate that, i was made a smearing target, first in
russia fake news media, it spread at almost ten different sites, saying that i'm not a journalist at all. instead, i'm some kind of famous assistant of nato and american security services so they framed me as some kind of a foreign agent. >> let's go back. this is in 2014 before the u.s. election that you were on this, right? and so now to discredit you they were saying you were an agent of the united states. >> basically-- >> because there's nothing worse to be said, is that the idea? that you were being-- >> and beyond that, how did it affect you? how did it affect you? was even worse, they called you every name in the book. demeaned you. did it make it hard to work, to keep going? >> of course, that was their whole point, as they continued, they're basically criminal smearing campaign. today they've made about 250 fake news stories for me, only
one pro kremlin, pro neo-nazi and then other fake news and they claim that i'm criminal drug dealer, mentally disabled, and made up all this ordeal. so what that cause is, it agitates real people into hating me and real people sending death threats to me. my former friends turned into enemies and tried to threaten me and someone who knows me from the history, they started to hate me as well. so they really-- >> this is where it gets scary because this is where it works, right? you say something often enough and then people think it's true. and this is kind of the sad fact of why this index is so important that we kind of take a look, take a breath, and try to figure out where we go from here. and i want to talk, what an amazing story you have to tell. when you went on the radio,
graphicically and explaining something that people were not supposed to-- it was taboo to talk about this-- >> thank you very much, it wasn't easy and i remember at that time 1998, 1996 first, after the broken down of the fifth war, talked about rape and sexual violence, the second war, it was 1998 there was silence and in 1999 some women started denouncing the rape and sexual violence and i remember when we wanted to talk about it on the radio, we didn't even have a word to talk about it. we tried-- >> because it was so socially
taboo to say? >> yes, we tried to look in our local languages, from swahili from the congo, from the local languages, but there was explanations of the phenomenon, so we had to borrow a word from tanzania and that was told people about it. and i remember the first time we broadcasted the testimony from women who were -- who were raped, it was a shock in the community. the people called and said, how are you talking about sex on the radio. i said it's not a problem of sex, it's really a problem of community because the woman explained how she was raped, how after the rape she got tortured, they put branches in
vagina and people were shocked. >> and by writing about the problem, and the put an eye on the problem and in the world -- and so the effect was clear. >> yes. >> what happened to you personally since we're talking about the courage it takes these days to write things. what did you endure? >> yeah, i quickly realized that our microphone was to fight that phenomenon. and really, at that time we started giving our microphone to women to tell their stories. because when the results were attacking the village, they called it a silence war, means rape, and quickly we -- my colleagues, we turned our microphone to women, we became the loudspeaker of these women and we denounced it, we
announced it. >> did you have the same experience as jessica, that some of your friends said, why are you doing this? >> yes. so sometimes it was crazy what are you talking about? the shame, it's a shame even for women, you are highlighting the problem of women you should not talk about this. we said, no, we have to talk about it is to act. so we led a campaign called the challenging violence. women journalists against rape and sexual violence and we went to the national criminal court and, yeah, we had such opportunities to testify and to bring the spotlight on the problem. and women were really sensitized. and even the community were rejecting the survivors. they were rejected by the family. they were stigmatized, but we
had to sense sense titize the family. >> and for years i was a correspond around the world and many times i felt proud that other countries would say, oh, you're from "the washington post," you could do anything, you have such freedom. they were kind of gosh, i wish i could work there. these days as we dropped into the problematic area for press freedom, have you noticed in your-- in the last years that from other countries looking at the states, they see a problem here? jessica? >> we are seeing a problem that is coming from your presidential leadership against the press at the moment and, but we're also seeing that the-- what you're doing is really
brave and really expert and you still show a lot of example to the rest of the world so keep on doing what you're doing. >> nice. thank you. and bill, reagan, i mean, since reagan you have actually been in the white house and where do you see the country going now as we move to 2020 campaign. >> it's one thing to try to steer news coverage by placing things out there, by leaking certain stories, by trying to avoid coverage of other things. it's entirely another to threaten reporters and to say that news coverage shouldn't be allowed. so, the only weapon we have is truth. the problem is, that in today's media environment in with social media, we can be overwhelmed. so we have to come out there with more effort than ever to get the truth out.
and i think part of the way to do that is for reporters to avoid expressing their own opinions on social media. i think that's a mistake. because it then doesn't differentiate reporters from people who are giving opinion. >> right. it feeds right into it. anything else that reporters should be doing to try to move up on this index? what do we need to do ourselves? i mean, i know what other people need to do, but we have control about what we should be doing. >> part of it is is simply making sure that the united states government doesn't move to suppress press freedom in any way. there is a danger lurking out there in today's world which we've discussed at length here. we don't know what they would do if they could, but they this president always suggests that
it would be a good idea if we didn't have so much, quote, fake news. most of which is not fake. >> yes. and to pick well and there's like so much noise, so much going on out there, i think one of the things a lot of journalists talk about is to keep your eye on the ball, on the big things because people are overwelcomed by the amount of information. and some very disturbing thing happened to you for your efforts, russia is one of the most dangerous places to work. people get killed. they're in jail. you were early on this story. you've won lots of awards, including you pick up the phone and heard that you'd won one from the state department. which was a fairly big deal and then you were told, oops, what happened there? the actual state department pulled her award and some people think it may have had to do with the fact that you were
critical of donald trump. what do you think? >> yeah, well, it was. [laughter] >> i still feel like winner because i have the award for a while before -- before it was canceled from me without any official documentation or explanation and-- >> what did they say? whoops? i mean, what did they-- >> they just said that it's canceled. and then i read from the foreign policy that anonymous officials from the state department told that it was due to my trump critical tweets, but you know, then these democrats at the senate oversighting the state department committee of foreign relations, they looked into it and they made their own investigation. they found out that it's indeed what the state department spokesperson said publicly and he said that it was a mistake, and that the award was never given to me in the first place,
that that certainly wasn't based on documentation. >> and you know, it was minor things that you were saying also, about trolling. basically said he was trolling. bill, you've seen leaders, they've been criticized. criticizing leaders is not something that's new. what's new is if you criticize some people, they immediately say, they demean you, they discredit you, they say it's just not true. >> in jessica's case, the state department and the administration seemed to be trying to go out of their way to say this really didn't happen. in order, they are basically denying that there was any political influence. well, look, i covered white houses for 30 years and i never saw a decision that didn't have at least some consideration of politics when it was made. and certainly this wreaks of that. >> right. but what is at the heart of
this, is what we're seeing in many countries is when a leader is criticized, they go after the journalist and in our country we have a long history-- i mean, think of the names that we've called different presidents over time. why is it so different now? >> richard nixon had an enemies list and on that list, there were a number of journalists as well as members of the opposition party, but he didn't do anything to restrict their ability to work. that is how times have changed. >> right. >> well, i mean, it's the tension between the four states, the four pillars, right, the white house, the judiciary, congress and the press and what is this whole day, this whole morning is about is when you diminish the power of one, then the power of the others rise and it's all about checks and balances and it's a bit scary here.
chouchou, congo 117 not a good spot. so even now it's difficult there. what are the challenges for journalists in the congo? >> the daily work of a journal irs is really a challenge, threats on journalists, arrests, it's like a daily norm. journalists arrested for defamation, for insults, like you say, when you criticize an authority and journalists are jailed for that. journalists are jailed for investigation on sensitive matters. like female journalists when we make an allegation against the rape and sexual violence, used as a weapon of war, it's a sensitive matter so we received threats to be killed, to be
kidnapped, to be raped, also. and really, i remember in 2009 my town was called a place, a dangerous place to live as a journalist. >> and it's so interesting when you look at the index that depending on the leader in certain african countries, some are zooming up and some are going down, it depends. >> yes. >> jessica, you were out early, you saw how social media was key into this, right? it's key into spreading the word, spreading bad, you know, disinformation. where do you see the state of the world press going now? and what should be done? >> well, after we need to investigations, we can do, you know, cover these topics with international colleagues. we can form networks to cover this, for example the russian trolls they are influencing all over the place, not just in
finland or ukraine, but also in catalonia, they're fueling conflicts and also in france. so, and of course, the presidential elections, they helped trump to get elected. so there should be really, you know, wise to form some journalistic coalitions. ... i think those efforts which are supposedly underweight need to be encouraged. basically all we have is the truth and we have to keep working as hard as we can to get
it out there. >> all we have is the truth. i mean, this is what this whole day has been about. we started this morning talking about the battles to get the truth, the facts, information to people so they can make right decisions. you showing up this morning, the people that watch it online, , e are very grateful to that, and to think along with social media, along with people being aware, along with the journalists holding themselves to the highest standard, and the courage that we've seen that you've taken, and others, you know, i'm always optimistic but we really grateful. all we have time for today. you can come if you want to watch any of this segment, you can go to washingtonpostlive.com. you can see the segments. thank you so much. [applause]
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> live coverage continues with a discussion on how the issue of government reform could affect the outcome of the 2020th presidential election. this event hosted by new york university. >> okay. so welcome here to washington, d.c. campus,