Newspapers all over America are talking today about the importance of press freedom. (

So let’s talk about some people who know something about the importance of press freedom.

Let’s talk about Tudor.

He was the editor of a municipal government newspaper in Moldova near the Nistru River. As the Soviet Union started winding down, his newspaper began to exercise more and more freedom, throwing off the restraints of government. And when the local municipal government cracked down, he walked, taking his entire staff with him and started an independent newspaper on a shoestring.

Let’s talk about Ozod.

He tried to launch an independent newspaper in Uzbekistan based upon Western principles of objective reporting, separating reportage from opinion and clearly identifying advertising. After an attempt on his life, he made his way to this country and was granted political asylum.

Let’s talk about Pavel.

When he wrote an opinion piece in his native Belarus saying that he’d like to have a presidential candidate whose political opponents did not end up dead, he was jailed and sentenced to hard labor.

Let’s talk about Alisher.

His newspaper in Kyrgyzstan ruffled enough feathers that he was assassinated by the secret police of a neighboring country.

Those of us here have it much easier.

And yet.

Let’s talk about political rallies that stir hatred and the potential of violence toward reporters.

Let’s talk about ongoing campaigns to undermine the credibility of professional news outlets.

Let’s talk that toxic catchphrase: “Enemy of the People.”

And let’s talk about the importance of democratic societies having common ground for basic shared information about what happened today, what might happen tomorrow and what it might mean for all of us.

There is an unshakable feeling that this country may be at a tipping point. Either we get a grip and get back to our founding principles of fact-driven dialogue, debate and decision-making, or we go off the deep end.

Let’s talk. — J.R.