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World Press Freedom Day 2020

Photo: Heriberto Paredes
Mexican Journalists gather to show their resistance agains the impunity for crimes agains journalists after the killing of the mexican photographer Rubén Manuel Espinosa Becerril (2015). Photo: Heriberto Paredes

World Press Freedom Day 2020

The Institute for Journalism and Media studies and the research group MEKK at OsloMet had planned our yearly activities in relation to the World Press Freedom Day. However, as COVID19 is preventing all physical meetings and events, we would like to share some important news and initiatives to mark this important day.

May 3 was in 1993 declared by The United Nations General Assembly to be World Press Freedom Day or just World Press Day, observed to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

From UNESCO.org:

As part of the 2020 celebration of World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO is releasing a preview of a forthcoming study on media independence.

#PressFreedom: Journalists struggle to work free from fear or favour, new UNESCO study says

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the importance of free and independent media in reporting verified information to the public and in holding public authorities to account.

Yet, as the preview of a new UNESCO study assesses, in recent years the news media have faced increased challenges to editorial independence. This is especially through ‘media capture’ in which media are skewed by private and state groups that abuse systems of regulation, ownership, advertising and finance.

The resulting damage to the integrity of editorial independence has compromised the ability of many media workers to provide the public with vital information.

The culmination of these and other controls means that journalists seeking to follow professional standards have to stave off pressures and attacks from external actors as well navigate power in their own outlets

While the study shows how threats to professional independence have intensified, it also highlights the multiple efforts and initiatives that have proven successful in safeguarding independent journalism, and provides recommendations for all stakeholder groups.

It underlines the importance of journalists standing up for professional standards, particularly in the context of disinformation.

The full study, titled Reporting Facts: Free from Fear or Favour, will be published later this year as an In Focus edition of the series World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development.

From Reporters without Borders (RSF):

In the run-up to World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is publishing exclusive interviews by Philippine journalist Maria Ressa with Washington Post columnist Rana Ayyub, whistleblower Edward Snowden, Nobel economy laureate Joseph Stiglitz and RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire on the subject of “Journalism in crisis: a decisive decade.”

See all the interviews here

Online discussion

on Press Freedom and Tackling Disinformation in the COVID-19 context (May 4)

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, celebrated every year on 3 May, UNESCO and its Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, will host an online discussion on the importance of free media in providing the public with reliable independent information, vital in times of crisis. The High-level Dialogue on Press Freedom and Tackling Disinformation in the COVID-19 context, will be streamed online on Monday 4 May, 5pm Central European Time (GMT +2).

UNESCO’s flagship event of World Press Freedom Day will bring together UN Secretary-General António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, journalist Younes Mujahid, President of the International Federation of Journalists, Maria Ressa, investigative journalist from the Philippines, founder of the Rappler news website, and the Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders, Christophe Deloire, alongside a number of other high level participants. Prominent Mexican-born American journalist Jorge Ramos will moderate the debate.

Prize to Colombian journalist

The MEKK research group would like to congratulate the Colombian investigative journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima who has been named as the laureate of the 2020 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on the recommendation of an independent international jury of media professionals.

Jineth Bedoya Lima’s reporting has focused on the armed conflict and peace process in Colombia and on sexual violence against women. Ms Bedoya Lima was herself a victim of sexual violence in 2000 when she was abducted and raped in connection with an investigation into arms trafficking she was conducting for daily newspaper El Espectador. Three years later, while working for the daily El Tiempo, she was kidnapped by militants of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

“The courage and commitment of Jineth Bedoya Lima, doubly exposed to unacceptable risks as a woman and as a journalist, inspire profound respect,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “We need the work of professional and independent journalists.”


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