Journalists are “defenders of liberty,” Secretary of State John Kerry says, working at “a very precious endeavor … under constant pressure.”

Kerry spoke January 28 at the official opening of the new Washington Post building. That paper, Kerry recalled, had proven that “not even the president of the United States is above the law” when it exposed details of the Watergate scandal during the administration of President Richard Nixon.

John Kerry waving to seated audience (State Dept.)
Secretary of State John Kerry waves to Washington Post journalists as he enters their new headquarters. (State Dept.)

Bolstering truth

“Reporting the truth is a public service,” Kerry said. “Silence allows crime and corruption to rot whole countries.” For that reason, the United States backs programs that support independent media in 30 countries.

“A country without a free and independent press has nothing to brag about, nothing to teach and no way to fulfill its potential,” Kerry said.

Journalists face danger

Too often today, the secretary said, journalists face danger. In the past year alone, 71 members of the media have been killed and nearly 200 jailed.

Kerry also welcomed home Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who was held for 545 days in an Iranian prison. Rezaian listened as Kerry underscored the dangers of journalism today.

Learn more about the importance of a free press and freedom of information.