Journalism without Fear or Favour – World Press Freedom Day


2 photos: left is a female photo journalist amidst riot police, right a male journalist in a recording studio wearing a face mask.
Journalists in the line of duty. Photo credits: left – UNESCO; right – UN Photo/Evan Schneider.
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UNESCO is launching a global campaign on media and social media channels, with a focus on “Journalism without Fear or Favour” in an increasingly complex media landscape. Join them on May 3rd for an interactive free livestreamed event to celebrate World Press Freedom Day 2020: ” Difference Day Conference 2020.”
Also, on May 4th through the 6th, there will be several events including: High-level Dialogue on Press Freedom and Tackling Disinformation in the COVID-19 context, webinars, and online discussions via Facebook Live, YouTube, and Microsoft teams, amongst other digital platforms. Details are available on the UNESCO site.
António Guterres

As the [COVID-19] pandemic spreads, it has also given rise to a second pandemic of misinformation, from harmful health advice to wild conspiracy theories. The press provides the antidote: verified, scientific, fact-based news and analysis.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

The sub-themes for this year are:

  • Safety of Women and Men Journalists and Media Workers
  • Independent and Professional Journalism free from Political and Commercial Influence
  • Gender Equality in All Aspect of the Media

World Press Freedom Conference 2020

Organized annually since 1993, the Global Conference provides an opportunity to journalists, civil society representatives, national authorities, academics and the broader public to discuss emerging challenges to press freedom and journalists’ safety, and to work together on identifying solutions.

 

The Netherlands is the host for 2020. UNESCO and The Netherlands had planned to hold the Conference from 22 to 24 April at the World Forum in The Hague. It is now scheduled for 18 to 20 October at the same venue. It will be a joint celebration of World Press Freedom Day (3 May) and the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (2 November).

The decision to postpone the conference has been taken to minimize costs and risks for all involved, in the wake of the decision by the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic.

The planning of the conference was well underway; with more than 1,000 registered participants and 60 confirmed sessions. The programme included the first-ever international forum of legal actors, an academic conference on the safety of journalists, a press freedom festival targeting youth, and the award ceremony of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, among many other sessions. The most important networks of media stakeholders had already confirmed their attendance.

The conference organizers invite all partners to continue their engagement with this event and will work towards ensuring the same programme with an even greater level of participation in October.

More information is available on the UNESCO FAQ page.

Origin and Purpose

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.

May 3 acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. It is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. It is an opportunity 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.

How to stop misinformation in times of coronavirus?

Learn how to identify unverified content you receive on your cell phone and avoid spreading information on social media that has not been checked by credible sources. Caring for reliable information is everyone’s responsibility, and helps us make better decisions.

An illustration of heads with talk bubbles above them.

Disinformation: a silent weapon in times of pandemic

UNESCO and UNDP join forces to promote verified information against COVID 19. UNESCO invites the media, journalists, government agencies, organized civil societies and digital influencers to share among their audiences practices that promote verified management of the content circulating on social media.

Design Competition: WPFD 2020

As part of the global celebration, UNESCO Office, Jakarta, is organizing a Design Competition themed: “Journalism without Fear or Favour”.

Today, concerns about the independence of journalism have extended to new issues including Internet companies having become the primary curators of journalistic and cultural content; some operating business models that have promoted disinformation and hate speech at the expense of prominence to journalism.

There is also an increase in incitement to hostility against targeted news outlets and individual reporters, and intimidation via digital channels where women journalists and artists are especially subjected to attack. Journalism and journalists face old and new threats, such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, longstanding male-gender predominance in media is another factor affecting editorial integrity.

 

Youth in a radio recording studio.

World Press Freedom Conference 2020 will host a dedicated Youth Newsroom giving young journalists the chance to report on the World Press Freedom Conference and improve their journalism skills. Their output will be published widely on the channels of UNESCO, the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs and other partners. During WPFC 2020, all Youth Newsroom reporters will work as professional journalists. They will receive the same press accreditation as all other journalists covering the conference.

The Youth Newsroom is an initiative that is part of the WPFC every year. Twenty young candidates from countries all over the world have been selected: journalists, photographers, vloggers/bloggers and press cartoonists. They will have full access to Youth Newsroom at the World Forum.

 

Photos of Guillermo Cano Isaza and Jineth Bedoya Lima.

Colombian investigative journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima has been named as the laureate of the 2020 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The award ceremony will take place at the Conference in The Hague at a later date.

Created in 1997, the annual Prize honours a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially when achieved in the face of danger. It is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper El Espectador in Bogotá, Colombia on 17 December 1986.

*SOURCE: United Nations. Go to ORIGINAL.

A man speaks into a microphone in a radio studio in Juba, South Sudan.
A radio journalist at work in Juba, South Sudan, on World Press Freedom Day (3 May). Photo credit: UN Photo/Isaac Billy.

 

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right as stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Media freedom and access to information feed into the wider development objective of empowering people. Empowerment is a multi-dimensional social and political process that helps people gain control over their own lives.

This can only be achieved through access to accurate, fair and unbiased information, representing a plurality of opinions, and the means to actively communicate vertically and horizontally, thereby participating in the active life of the community.

However, in order to make freedom of expression a reality, there must be:

  • a legal and regulatory environment that allows for an open and pluralistic media sector to emerge;
  • a political will to support the sector and rule of law to protect it;
  • laws ensuring access to information, especially information in the public domain; and
  • the necessary media literacy skills among news consumers to critically analyze and synthesize the information they receive to use it in their daily lives and to hold the media accountable for its actions.

These elements, along with media professionals adhering to the highest ethical and professional standards designed by practitioners, serve as the fundamental infrastructure on which freedom of expression can prevail. On this basis media serves as a watchdog, civil society engages with authorities and decision-makers, information flows through and between communities.

Freedom of Information

The fuel that drives this engine is information and therefore access to information is critical. Freedom of information laws, which permit access to public information are essential, but so are the means by which information is made available, be it through ICTs or the simple sharing of documents.

Information can change the way we see the world around us, our place in it, and how to adjust our lives in order to maximize the benefits available through our local resources. Fact driven decision-making can significantly alter our political, social and economic perspectives.

Therefore, open and pluralistic media are, perhaps, most precious when they simply provide the mirror for society to see itself. These moments of reflection are instrumental in defining community objectives, making course corrections when society or its leaders have lost touch with each other or gone astray.

The right to access information can be interpreted within the legal frameworks that support freedom of information as it applies to information held by public bodies, or in a wider sense to encompass both access and circulation of information held by other actors, where it becomes intrinsically linked to freedom of expression.

Freedom of information and the transparency it promotes, has a direct consequence on fighting corruption, which in turn has a tangible impact on development. Former World Bank president James Wolfensohn often identified government corruption as the primary hindrance to development and an independent media sector as the number one tool to fight public corruption.

Press Freedom and Governance

Ensuring freedom for the media around the world is a priority. Independent, free and pluralistic media are central to good governance in democracies that are young and old. Free media:

  • can ensure transparency, accountability and the rule of law;
  • promote participation in public and political discourse, and
  • contribute to the fight against poverty.

An independent media sector draws its power from the community it serves and in return empowers that community to be full a partner in the democratic process.

Freedom of information and freedom of expression are the founding principles for open and informed debate. New technology will continue to evolve and allow citizens to further shape their media environments as well as access a plurality of sources. The combination of access to information and citizen participation in media can only contribute to an increased sense of ownership and empowerment.

**SOURCE: United Nations. Go to ORIGINAL.

2020 Human Wrongs Watch

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