At a time when we are mired in worry and uncertainty because of the COVID-19 pandemic, verified and reliable information is essential to help us face, understand, and overcome this crisis. We must consider the vital importance of information in this situation. Informing the public means, giving everyone the means of combatting the pandemic by adopting appropriate practices.
Today is World Press Freedom Day, and on this day we would like to inform everyone that freedom of the press and expression are fundamental human rights. On this day we celebrate the basic principles of press freedom, assess the state of press freedom in the world, defend the media against attacks on their independence, and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
The World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 following a recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO's General Conference. In times of crisis, the importance of accurate and reliable journalism cannot be overstated. Yet, since 1993 more than 1387 journalists have been killed ‘in the line of duty’ or merely for the fact of being a journalist. Hence, securing a free and independent media and ensuring journalism without fear or favour are therefore more than ever essential for democracy to survive.
The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day is “Information as a Public Good”, and it underlines the indisputable importance of verified and reliable information. It calls attention to the essential role of free and professional journalists in producing and disseminating this information, by tackling misinformation and other harmful content. The theme is of urgent relevance to all countries across the world, as it recognises the changing communications system that is impacting on our health, our human rights, democracies and sustainable development.
We, at the World Assembly World deem that this Day acts as a reminder of the importance of a free press in a functioning and safe society, and serves to commemorate the journalists who have lost their lives in support of free press. We encourage and develop initiatives in favour of press freedom, as well as assessing the status of press freedom worldwide. Our efforts include the promotion of human rights including media expression to young people serving as a reminder of the need to respect the importance of press freedom.
Together, we could enhance Media and Information Literacy (MIL) capacities that enable people to recognise and value, as well as defend and demand, journalism as a vital part of information as a public good. In reflecting the issue of press freedom and professional ethics amongst media, we believe that young people should be exposed to different opinions, freedom of speech, and freedom to publish their desires.