Why Is It Important To Have a World Press Freedom Day?

Why Is  It Important To Have a World Press Freedom DayWhile it is important that governments should allow media outlets to publish the truth, the reverse side of this coin is the lack of governmental enforcement of laws preventing the publishing of lies. In the UK, for example, there has been no governmental action against the lies published by The Sun newspaper concerning the Hillsborough disaster. Surely this is as important as exposing governments who would suppress the truth about such events?

During the run up to the council elections there has been a concerted media campaign to spread lies in order to impact the results, as happens in the run up to every important election. Surely the prevention of this is important if elections are to be free and fair?

What happens behind the scenes in order to produce daily news is difficult to determine but the results are there for all to see. In the case of The Sun newspaper the lies were front page news, influencing opinion, but the ‘apology’ for the lies was hard to find, hidden deep within the publication.

The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day or, if the thought of media outlets being free to publish the truth is too much to expect, just World Press Day. The day has been allocated to attempts 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. It also marks the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991.

UNESCO marks World Press Freedom Day by conferring the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on a deserving individual, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger.

The Prize is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper, El Espectador, in Bogot√°, on 17 December 1986. Cano’s writings had offended Colombia’s powerful drug barons.

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