(As prepared for delivery)
Many thanks to Bharath and the University of Chicago Center for hosting us today for this important event. It’s a pleasure to be here with Ambassador Carmon and to collaborate with the Embassy of Israel as we honor the life and work of Daniel Pearl. Thanks also to Ramesh Sharma, for sharing with us his film. It is not only a powerful tribute to Daniel, but also a fine piece of investigative reporting in its own right.
Daniel Pearl was tragically taken from us thirteen years ago. His death was one of those moments that reminded us of the importance of a free press, and the need to ensure the safety and security of journalists working in difficult places. When journalists are silenced, or deterred from discovering the truth, we as a society suffer. Information is power, and journalists like Daniel are crucial for delivering that power to the people.
Unfortunately, reporters in many parts of the world still face great risks. There are those who are threatened by a strong and vibrant media, and want to extinguish voices that aim to expose wrongdoing or hypocrisy. We must be vigilant in the face of these threats, and stand up for press freedom as the bedrock of a democratic society.
I greatly appreciate the robust media culture here in India – even if at times it means I have to face hard-hitting questions I’d rather avoid. Your journalists are among the world’s best, and the sheer number of news outlets available, on TV, in print, and online, is a testament to the Indian thirst for information. Our mutual respect for journalistic freedom is among the many shared values that forms the foundation of the partnership between our two countries.
Today, the proliferation of digital platforms has made access to information even easier. Citizen journalists are capturing videos with their cell phones and uploading them online. Bloggers are engaging in important conversations on every issue imaginable. Twitter lets us consume tidbits of information on a vast array of topics, while long-form journalism has found a second life through online magazines. Even though the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming, we should embrace these new forms of communication, as they help to broaden our understanding of the world around us. More information is more power.
I know we have many journalism students in the audience, and today as we commemorate the work of Daniel Pearl, I urge you to be relentless in your search for truth. Daniel was a staunch believer in the power of information, and he dedicated his life to shedding light on hard facts. Let him be an inspiration for you as you embark on your own professional journey. Journalism is difficult work, and as we’ve learned all too often, it can be dangerous. But it is your courage and your commitment that helps us as we strive for justice, transparency, and accountability. Thanks for being here today, and enjoy the rest of the program.