By: E&P Staff
Borrowing from the words of Frederick Douglass and an African proverb, National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) President Bryan Monroe told delegates at the first United Nations Global Youth Summit that governments and authorities can never stop the free flow of information.
Monroe, the former vice president for news at Knight Ridder Inc., was the first U.S. media executive to speak from the podium of the UN General Assembly Hall, NABJ said.
In his address at the summit’s opening on Sunday, Monroe told student delegates from 192 member nations that “a free and unfettered press is critical to the development of civil societies, and crucial as the primary tool to inform liberty and defeat tyranny.”
Attempts to still the flow of information never work in the long run, Monroe said: “Whether it is a crackdown on independent newspapers in Zimbabwe or restrictions on Internet access in China, somehow, information always, somehow, finds a way to break free.”
He noted that, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 42 journalists have been killed around the world so far this year. But “their stories, their ideas, the information they championed still lives,” he added.
Touching on diversity, Monroe, an African American, said that “too often, people who look like me are still not at the table when decisions about coverage and content in the news media are made.”
As a result, he said, democracy and liberty suffer. “We must fight that status quo, fight the power,” Monroe said.
Monroe is currently vice president and editorial director of Ebony and Jet magazines.