Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act Introduced in House

Would create grant program to help strengthen media independence

The State Department is being asked to report annually on the state of press freedom worldwide and develop a grant program to help strengthen media independence.

That is according to a new bill, the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, which was introduced Wednesday by Reps. Mike Pence (R-IN) and Adam Schiff (D-CA).

The bill was named in honor of the late Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter taken hostage in 2002, and later murdered, by Islamic extremists in Pakistan while reporting a story on terrorism.

"I can think of no better way to honor the memory of Daniel Pearl," Pence said in announcing the bill. "This legislation takes valuable steps in highlighting and supporting the critical work of investigative journalism, while putting on notice those countries who choose to ignore the freedom of the press and perpetrate violence and censorship that should offend the conscience of all those who cherish freedom."

The State Department may want to consult with the Committee To Protect Journalists, which wrote the book, make that several, on threats to press freedom around the world.