October 6, 1983

Since the founding of this nation, freedom of the press has been a fundamental tenet of American life. The economic freedom that has earned us such great bounty and the precious freedoms of speech and assembly would have little meaning or be totally nullified should freedom of the press ever be ended. There is no more essential ingredient than a free, strong, and independent press to our continued success in what the Founding Fathers called our ``noble experiment'' in self-government.

Today, as we survey the globe, we find increasing hostility to the principles of open communication. Both the governments of many nations and certain international organizations advocate or enforce policies alien to a free flow of ideas. This promotion of censorship reflects a manifest fear of the truth and depreciation of the great importance of liberty to human advancement.

The theme of this year's observance of National Newspaper Week, ``A Free Press -- Democracy's First Defense,'' helps focus attention on the essential role of a free press to the progress and development of democratic institutions. This occasion also serves as a reminder of the singular worth of a free press to the well-being of our country. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, ``Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press.''

Throughout National Newspaper Week, all Americans are pleased to note the many contributions of the men and women of our nation's press to the preservation of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of the press. Of the forces shaping the destiny of our civilization, none is more crucial to our future than the responsible reporting and truthful analysis of the events of our era. I commend your dedicated efforts in pursuit of their goals.

Ronald Reagan