“A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.” – Albert Camus

NEW YORK CITY — As a journalist, being in the right place at the right time is different from just watching from a far place or country a historic event about press freedom unfold, thus I counted it as one of the many “blessings” that I became part of history in the recent New Year’s Eve Ball Countdown after making that “live” report hours before the big celebration.

For the first time since the New Year’s Eve Ball made its maiden descent from the flagpole atop One Times Square, the recent New Year’s Eve ball drop was dedicated to “press freedom.”

It is but fitting that this year’s celebration was dedicated to journalism and journalists as a whole to help make people understand the role we are playing in shaping of public opinion and of disseminating solid and truthful facts through the news we dish through our respective media outlets on a regular basis.

Journalism has been largely misunderstood even in advanced countries; journalists were among the professionals who faced tremendous crisis these past years all over the world.




The 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles are illuminated by 32,256 Philips Luxeon LEDs. This Big Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball is now a year-round attraction sparkling above Times Square in full public view January through December.

“On New Year’s Eve we look back and reflect on the major events of the past year, we look forward with a sense of hope, and we celebrate the people and things we value most,” Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, said in a statement. “This year, we’re celebrating the free press and journalism and those who work to protect, preserve and practice it.”

The Times Square Alliance – which named the Committee to Protect Journalists as its “charity honoree” for the evening – got its inspiration for the theme from TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2018, which honored persecuted journalists like slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

It made me even prouder when it was known that one of the 11 journalists listed by the organization who took part in the button-pushing ceremony when the clock hit midnight was a Filipino, Maria Ressa, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Editor, Rappler, who is having troubles with the Duterte Regime in the Philippines.




The other journalists invited in the big event witnessed by millions of people from around the world, were Karen Attiah, Global Opinions Editor of The Washington Post; Rebecca Blumenstein, Deputy Managing Editor of The New York Times; Alisyn Camerota, co-anchor of CNN’s New Day; Vladimir Duthiers, Correspondent of CBS News and Anchor of CBSN; Edward Felsenthal, Editor-in-Chief of TIME magazine; Lester Holt, anchor of NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC; Matt Murray, Editor-in-Chief of The Wall Street Journal; Martha Raddatz, Chief Global Affairs Correspondent and “This Week” Co-Anchor of ABC News; Jon Scott, Anchor of Fox Report Weekend on Fox News Channel; and Karen Toulon, Senior Editor of Bloomberg.

Tzipi Livni once said, “In a democracy, you need to have a strong judicial system. You need freedom of speech, you need art, and you need a free press.”

Also, Alexis de Tocqueville once said, “Grant me thirty years of equal division of inheritances and a free press, and I will provide you with a republic.”