Knight Center
Knight Center

JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

World Press Freedom Day focuses on 'journalism and elections in times of disinformation'



 

Each May 3 is a global celebration of press freedom and its importance to society. For this year’s World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), journalists and press freedom advocates will focus on media and elections, as well as the role of media in peace and reconciliation processes.

This is the 26th year that WPFD is celebrated around the globe since it was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993. The year’s theme is “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.”

It holds up Article 19 –freedom of opinion and expression– and Article 21 –the right to take part in the government and elections– of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as pointed out by UNESCO and the UN Department of Global Communications.

A free press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights,” said António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, in his message for WPFD. “No democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information. It is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power.”

Guterres goes onto say that this is particularly true during elections when voters should be guided by facts.

“Yet, while technology has transformed the ways in which we receive and share information, sometimes it is used to mislead public opinion or to fuel violence and hatred,” he said, calling attention to the decrease in civic space and the growth of anti-media rhetoric and violence and harassment of journalists.

To commemorate the day, events and discussions are planned around the world, including a celebration at UN Headquarters in New York and the main event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the African Union Headquarters.

The World Press Freedom Day in Latin America is planned from 9 a.m to 12 p.m. in San Jose, Costa Rica. The event will consist of panels open to the public that will address the Internet, access and transmission of information and freedom of expression.

It is organized by UNESCO, the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

To find other events planned in Latin America, consult this map created by UNESCO.

Other organizations are carrying out social media campaigns to celebrate WPFD. For example, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) is calling attention to the underrepresentation of women journalists in newsrooms and is asking social media users to #CheckYourBylines.

The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas asked journalists from the region to share why press freedom is important to them and will be sharing their thoughts and opinions on social networks throughout the day.

Join the conversation and tell us why press freedom is important to you. Use the hashtags #WorldPressFreedomDay and #PressFreedom.



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