Geneva – World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) is observed every year on 3 May, but the current COVID-19 pandemic has cast a shadow on this year’s celebration.
Leading the global celebration of World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO has launched a campaign on media and social media channels under the theme of “Journalism Without Fear or Favour” with the following sub-themes:
– 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
As the coronavirus outbreak has received extensive media attention to keep up to date with the latest developments, journalists are working under enormous pressure to make sure that the public are getting the accurate and trustworthy information about the outbreak. Such pressure has led to a flow of misleading and fake news, therefore, there is an urgent and crucial need to acknowledge the media great role during the COVID-19 crisis and to ensure a free, transparent press in combating misinformation that can endanger people’s health.
Some governments are using the Coronavirus pandemic as a justification to curb civil liberties such as freedom of expression and assembly, while members of the media, who are not sufficiently protected, are risking their lives to bring information and keep people updated in time of pandemic and they are potentially exposed to the infection through contact with medical personnel and the coverage from hospitals. The latest statistics revealed that 55 journalists have died from the coronavirus.
On the other hand, written press hit hard by quarantine measures in many countries around the world as newspaper sales have declined and the whole print media industry is in terminal decline while the digital edition seems to have stepped into the spotlight.
The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties joins the United Nations in calling for :
– Intensifying efforts to counter misinformation “misinfo-demic”.Media should apply the highest ethical standards in transmitting the information and stop spreading conspiracies and fake news that put lives at risk.
Taking measures to ensure journalists’ safety
– Releasing detained journalists who are at risk of infection inside prisons that are infertile breeding grounds for incubation of the virus.
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 theis 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.
: For more details