Ambassador Miller studied journalism at the University of Michigan and believes strongly in the absolute necessity of a free press. He asked me to work into my remarks two of his favourite quotes about the power of a free press and modern democracy. Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.”
Tony Benn, in his final speech to the House of Commons, said, “In the course of my life I have developed five little democratic questions. If one meets a powerful person - - Adolf Hitler, Joe Stalin or Bill Gates - - ask them five questions:
What power have you got?
Where did you get it from?
In whose interests do you exercise it?
To whom are you accountable?
And how do we get rid of you?”
On World Press Freedom Day earlier this year the United States honored journalists who defend democratic ideals and their commitment to uncovering and telling the truth. In doing so, we also paid tribute to journalism itself, a profession essential to good governance and the functioning of democracy. This five-day workshop aims to support both government and private journalists and editors by enhancing their investigative journalism skills. By the end of the workshop, editors and reporters should be further empowered to engage in investigative journalism and inspire this reporting in their newsrooms. This training will also provide you with new tools and tips that allow you to improve your media outlet’s coverage of local, national, regional, and international news. This will, ideally, improve the tone and tenure of public debate and enhance transparency and accountability.
The media in Botswana is doing an admirable job of keeping the nation informed and at the same time holding people accountable. Democracy needs this type of strong, diverse and vibrant media to thrive. We stand with you in this mission. Press freedom is a U.S. foreign policy priority. Our ongoing engagement and direct partnerships in Botswana reflect our two countries’ shared values and our commitment to democracy’s fundamental principles, particularly a robust and independent civil society and free press.
This week we also applaud the recent launch of the media organization, INK Centre for Investigative Journalism, which will add plurality to the media landscape and support investigative journalism. INK is a non-partisan, non-profit media organization which aims to develop investigative journalism skills to promote open, accountable and just democracies and a free press to support democratic principles. This newly launched Centre endeavors to support investigative newsrooms across southern Africa, through the development of digital tools, tailored advocacy, and the promotion of exchanges, fellowship programs, and educational workshops. All of you do a very difficult job very well and your nation is in your debt.
Tim Smith Deputy Chief of Mission (US Embassy)