2022 Media Forum
November 23, 2022
Speaker Grosu, distinguished colleagues, I am so pleased to be here at the 2022 Media Forum, given the crucially important role a free and independent media plays in a democratic society.
Thank you to the Press Council and its partners for organizing this year’s Forum, which provides a unique opportunity to explore the challenges and opportunities of Moldova’s media environment.
To the journalists and civil society members who are attending, thank you for your contributions to building a strong and independent media sector in Moldova. We deeply appreciate the daily, dedicated work of journalists to provide the public with access to the fact-based information they need to participate in a resilient, democratic society.
As President Biden said in May on World Press Freedom Day, “the work of free and independent media matters now more than ever.” Yet around the world today, media freedom faces profound challenges including disinformation, threats and harassment faced by media workers, and economic challenges to the viability of media business models. Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine and its ongoing efforts to exert influence across the region have only heightened these challenges for the Moldovan media community.
But we have also seen a new level of demand by Moldovan media consumers for independent and unbiased news, and many outlets have risen to the occasion. The Vibrant Information Barometer, funded through USAID and compiled by IREX, categorizes Moldova’s media sector as “somewhat vibrant,” the highest category assigned to any country in this year’s report. This is absolutely something to celebrate — but it also shows there is still important work ahead of us.
Ladies and gentlemen, the challenges facing independent media demand our collective, urgent attention and action, and the United States stands ready to be a partner in these efforts in Moldova.
Through programs implemented by our Public Diplomacy Section and USAID, we are working to expand citizens’ access to a variety of fact-based perspectives by supporting the development of an independent, professional media sector that is resilient to political or financial pressure. USAID’s Media Enabling Democracy, Inclusion and Accountability in Moldova (MEDIA-M) program is one example of the work we are doing in this area, as part of our partnership with the people and government of Moldova to address immediate challenges and build a democratic, prosperous, and secure future.
Finding the right balance between ensuring citizens’ safety and their fundamental right to access information is not a simple task. Whether in the United States or Moldova or any other country, this balance can only be achieved when government, civil society, and the media work together in a participatory and transparent process. Looking at the group gathered here today, I’m confident that your examination of the challenges, sharing of best practices, and search for new opportunities will contribute meaningfully to that dialogue and will go a long way to building the vibrancy and sustainability of independent media in Moldova.