World Press Freedom Day

World Press Freedom Day

As part of World Press Freedom Day, seven journalists from Turkmenistan and local journalists will participate in a forum from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 2nd in the Fireside Room of the Benicia Public Library. Co-sponsored by Benicia Literary Arts, the Turkmeni journalists will discuss media and media access with four U.S. journalists. Kari Birdseye, a member of the Benicia City Council, communications specialist for environmental nonprofit organizations and a former CNN journalist will participate. The public is invited. Michael Barrington, Bay Area author and director of the Concord Rotary international programs, will moderate. The public is invited.

Turkmenistan has one of the world’s worst media freedom records. This delegation will
focus on journalists working for independent media outlets in a society where all print
and electronic media is almost exclusively government owned or tightly controlled.
Furthermore, internet access in Turkmenistan is highly censored.

Local journalists participating include: Kathleen Pender, retired “Net Worth” columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle where she wrote about investing; retirement and workplace issues; taxes; real estate; college savings and financial aid; insurance; philanthropy; banking, credit and consumer issues; Katherine Ann Rowlands, owner and publisher of Bay City News Service, a regional news wire serving most broadcast, print and digital outlets in the San Francisco Bay Area; Kari Birdseye, Benicia City Council member,; Nathan Gartrell, a reporter who covers crime and corruption and courts for the Bay Area News Group, which publishes the East Bay Times and the San Jose Mercury News; Lois Kazakoff, retired deputy editorial page editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, she has also worked for EdSource, a grant-funded website dedicated to news about California education, and CalMatters, a grand-funded website that covers California news.

The journalists from Turkmenistan include: Bekmyradov Myrat, Director. Main Government News website; Gandymova Mahriban, Head of Dept of Journalism,
Institute of International Relations; Ishangulyyev Annaguly, Deputy Chief editor,
Turkmen newspaper; Jumagulyyev Akmuhammet, Managing Editor,
Magazine, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Berdyklychev Azady, Head editor of International Information Center, State Committee on Broadcasting, and Radio; Danatar Galpakov, Section Editor, Nesil Newspaper; Avlyakulova Nazik, Facilitator, US Embassy,

World Press Freedom Day (officially May 3) is the occasion each year for Reporters Without Borders, an independent group of journalists and academics, to unveil its index of press freedom that ranks press freedom in 180 nations according to political context, legal framework, economic contest, sociocultural content and safety for journalists.

In the 2023 index, the United States ranked 45th for press freedom and Turkmenistan, 176th.

The Turkmenis are visiting Bay Area media organizations the week of April 29-May 3. The trip is funded by the U.S. Congress, organized by Rotary International and hosted locally by the Concord Rotary (which has hosted visiting journalists from six different countries over the past six years).

The Turkmeni journalists, five men and two women, are traveling as participants in a post-Soviet -era program called Open World administered by Congress (not the White House). It contracts with U.S. organizations (In this case, Rotary International) to set up meetings with congressional representatives and plan cultural exchanges with citizens of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, and Vietnam.


Date(s) - Thu, May 2, 2024
2:30 pm to 5:30 pm


Benicia Public Library
150 East L St, Benicia


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