Obama Signs Legislation in Support of Press Freedom Around the World

This story came from the L.A. Times by Michael Muskal

Essentially, Obama signed a statement in support of press freedom named after Daniel Pearl, a journalist who was brutally murdered on assignment in Pakistan. Reports after the signing say that Obama ironically didn’t take questions from the press after the event. The act would require the State Department to do a full analysis of press rights in a country when doing human rights reports. This should naturally be included and continues to be a key determinant of a country’s overall freedom. Check out this year’s 2010 Freedom in the World report by Freedom House–they include media too. And as always, go to CPJ for the latest on press freedom violations.

The story is below from the LA Times:

“President Obama on Monday signed a law designed to encourage the expansion of press freedoms — abroad.

Named after slain journalist Daniel Pearl, the law is designed to cast a spotlight on how foreign governments treat the media. The act requires the State Department in its annual human rights report to identify countries where there were violations of freedom of the press and what role the government may have had in the violations.

The measure “sends a strong message from the United States government and from the State Department that we are paying attention to how other governments are operating when it comes to the press,” Obama said at the White House signing ceremony. The law “puts us clearly on the side of journalistic freedom.”

Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was beheaded by militants in Pakistan in 2002. Attending the ceremony were his family, including his widow and their son, Adam Daniel, who turns 8 on May 28. Also attending were congressional sponsors including Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Rep. Adam Schiff  (D-Burbank).

The Obama administration has a had a bit of roller-coaster ride with the media over the last few months as a once pleasant relationship has cooled. Earlier this month, there were complaints at a White House briefing that Obama hasn’t had a recent formal news conference. After other complaints, the president visited with reporters on Air Force One during a Midwest swing.

According to the pool report on Monday’s signing, one reporter attempted to ask the president a question about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Speaking of press freedoms … ” CBS News correspondent Chip Reid began.”

“You are free to ask them,” the president said of the right to question. But he avoided the oil issue with, “I’m not doing a press conference today.”

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