Since the first World Press Freedom Day, organised in 1993, journalists and civil society representatives amongst others have gotten a platform to discuss the emerging challenges to press freedom and journalists’ safety, and to work together on identifying solutions. It has also become a day of reflection among media professionals, discussing issues of press freedom and professional ethics and also paying tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
This year’s celebration was done at home with online debates and workshops due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the theme ‘Journalism without Fear or Favour’. The focus was on the safety of journalists and media workers, independent and professional journalism free from political and commercial influence, and gender equality in all aspects of the media.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) launched a global campaign on media and social media channels. There were several events that included a 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.
The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, stated, ‘As the [Covid-19] pandemic spreads, it has also given rise to the second pandemic of misinformation, from harmful health advice to wild conspiracy theories. The press provides the antidote: verified, scientific, fact-based news, and analyses’.
He added, ‘Journalists and media workers are crucial in helping us make informed decisions. As the world fights the [Covid-19] pandemic, those decisions can make the difference between life and death. On World Press Freedom Day, we call on governments and others to guarantee that journalists can do their jobs throughout the [Covid-19] pandemic and beyond’.
The Founder and Executive Director of Connected Development (CODE), Hamzat Lawal, also took to his Twitter account to celebrate World Press Freedom Day, stating, ‘Journalists and media houses are the core pillars of our citizens’ campaign around data, information literacy, transparency, and accountability. [By t]ravelling for many hours, visiting and documenting voices in Boko Haram-ravaged communities across North-East Nigeria, [journalists play] a key role in amplifying community resilience and how the government is responding to ensure safe schools for girls’.
Photo source: Facebook