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A free press

The following editorial originally appeared in The Caledonian Record of Vermont.

On May 1 approximately 50 Egyptian police officers stormed a newspaper in Cairo, assaulted security guards, and arrested two journalists for criticizing the government. According to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, Egypt is the second worst jailer of journalists, worldwide.

In Turkey last this week, two newspaper columnists were each sentenced to two years in prison for "insulting people's religious values," after they re-published the Charlie Hebdo cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed. The sentences are in keeping with an aggressive crackdown on media by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Also last week, a car full of Somali broadcast journalists, who receive daily death threats, came under machine fire on their way to an assignment. Since Civil War broke out in 1992, 59 journalists have been killed for doing their job in the African nation.

Two weeks ago 64-year-old Chinese journalist Wang Jing was sentenced to four years in prison for "provoking trouble." Her "crime" was photographing Chinese police beating protesters. Wang is in poor health, suffers from a brain tumor, and has been beaten repeatedly by police while in captivity, her editor says. China is the world's leading jailer of journalists, the CPJ reports.

Overall, 72 journalists were killed in the line of duty in 2015 and 10 have been killed so far this year, while hundreds were beaten, harassed, intimidated, arrested, exiled or simply made to disappear for doing their jobs.

May 3 was World Press Freedom Day, an occasion to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; assess the state of press freedom throughout the world; defend the media from attacks on their independence; and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Without a free press, there isn't freedom. We join the United Nations in honoring the bedrock role played by journalists in guaranteeing lawful and democratic societies.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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