On May 3, 2023, World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) will be observed. WPFD is a UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) project that aims to assist and reflect on the work of media organizations and professionals. Its goal is to hold governments accountable for their commitment to press freedom while also allowing journalists to reflect on professional ethics. According to its website, the day:
“acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.”
World Press Freedom Day: Theme 2023
The theme for this year’s World Press Freedom Day is “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights,” which highlights the many ways in which Journnalistic right is threatened by surveillance and digitally-mediated attacks, as well as the implications for public faith in digital communications.
Surveillance and hacking are compromising journalism, according to the latest UNESCO World Trends Report Insights discussion paper “Threats that Silence: Trends in Journalists’ Safety.” Surveillance has the potential to expose information gathered by journalists, including information obtained from whistleblowers, and it violates the principle of source protection, which is universally recognized as a precondition for media freedom and is enshrined in UN Resolutions. Surveillance may endanger journalists’ safety by exposing sensitive personal information that could be used for arbitrary judicial harassment or attack.
There is a rising global drive for more transparency in how Internet businesses use people’ data, how that data is used to create prediction models and artificial intelligence, and how it is used to spread misinformation and hatred. The Windhoek+30 Declaration emphasized this, urging technology companies to “act to maintain openness in regard to their human and automated processes.”
World Press Freedom Day: History
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 the Declaration of Windhoek is 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.
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World Press Freedom Conference (WPFC) 2023
The Global Conference, which has been held annually since 1993, brings together journalists, civil society groups, national authorities, academics, and the general public to debate current threats to press freedom and journalist safety and to collaborate on finding answers.
In Punta Del Este, Uruguay, UNESCO and the Republic of Uruguay will organize the annual World Press Freedom Day Global Conference in a hybrid format from May 2 to 5, 2022. The influence of the digital era on freedom of expression, journalist safety, access to information, and privacy will be debated under the theme “Journalism under Digital Siege.”
The conference will bring together relevant policymakers, journalists, media representatives, activists, Internet company policy makers, cybersecurity managers, AI researchers, and legal experts from around the world to discuss the impact of the digital era on freedom of expression, journalist safety, media viability, and public trust.
World Press Freedom Day: Origins & Purpose
In December 1993, the United Nations General Assembly declared World Press Freedom Day, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. Since then, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek has been observed as World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd.
The historic link made between the freedom to seek, transmit, and receive information and the public good remains as relevant today as it was when it was signed 30 years ago. During the World Press Freedom Day International Conference, special commemorations honoring the 30th anniversary are planned.
The third of May serves as a reminder to governments that they must uphold their commitment to press freedom. It’s also a day for media professionals to focus on subjects like press freedom and professional ethics. It’s a chance for you to:
- the essential principles of journalistic freedom are honored;
- evaluate the current situation of press freedom around the world;
- Defend the media’s independence from attacks;
- and pay respect to journalists who have died while doing their jobs.
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Many IFJ affiliates are taking action to mark World Press Freedom Day on 3 May. Here is a non exhaustive list of their initiatives.
Cambodja: During World Press Freedom Day, CamboJA, in collaboration with UNESCO and other World Press Freedom Day working group CSO partners, will host a face-to-face debate to discuss and better understand the potential impact of restrictive legislation on fundamental freedoms, including the sub-decree on the establishment of the National Internet Gateway (NIG), the sub-decree on the management, use, and security protection of personal identity data (PID), and draft law on cybercrime. This year’s main theme will be “Journalism under Digital Siege,” which is the overarching theme.
Estonia: The Estonian Association of Journalists kicks off WPFD2022 with a hybrid conversation on media ethics, media freedom, and journalists’ role in times of crisis titled “In Crisis with Ethics.” Estonia, Ukraine, Russia, and Georgia are among the speakers.
Finland: The Finnish Journalists’ Union is holding a special event in Helsinki to commemorate World Press Freedom Day, which will include a panel discussion about what is missing in Finnish media and journalism.
France: The National Union of Journalists (SNJ-France) will hold a special ceremony for journalists “who died for information” on May 3 at 12:30 p.m. in Place Ghislaine-Dupont-Claude-Verlon-Camille-Lepage in Paris (2nd arrondissement), in the presence of Anthony Bellanger, IFJ General Secretary, and Dominique Pradalié, IFJ Executive Committee member.
The SNJ and the IFJ are also hosting a showing of the film “Hacking Justice” and a debate titled “Freedom, Rehabilitation, and Compensation for Julian Assange” on May 3 from 6 to 10 p.m. in the Paris City Hall auditorium. Cédric Villani, MP; Julian Assange’s family member; Anthony Bellanger, IFJ General Secretary; William Bourdon, lawyer; and David Dufresne, journalist and director.
Indonesia: This year’s WPFD coincides with Eid Al-Fitr, a religious holiday observed by the majority of Indonesian Muslims. As a result, the celebration of the Indonesian Independent Journalists Association will take place after May 3rd. The union will host debates, radio and television talk shows, photo exhibitions, and media training on holistic violence in 20 cities. The event will culminate on June 6 with the release of a report on press freedom in Indonesia.
Myanmar: On 3 May, the Myanmar Journalists Association will commemorate World Press Freedom Day with a round table discussion on “Real News” at the MPC office in Yangon, in order to reach out to more people and combat fake news.
Pakistan: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has a variety of federation and regional union-level activities scheduled. In honor of World Freedom Day, the following events are planned in the next days: Seminars in Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad; Candle Vigils in Memory of Martyred Journalists; Regional Union Rallies; and a Memorandum to be sent to the government authorities.
Sri Lanka: A seminar on “Press freedom and journalistic responsibility” will be held by the Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions (FMETU). The Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association and the Free Media Movement have collaborated to host a panel discussion on “Democracy, Social Responsibility, and Responsible Journalism,” which is timely given recent events in Sri Lanka. Journalists interested in attending are invited to use that link to RSVP.
United Kingdom: The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) is hosting a month-long online series of events with speakers who will discuss worldwide risks to journalism. The union’s efforts lobbying for journalist safety will be discussed, as will the use of spyware, the abuse of destructive legal challenges through SLAPPs, and much more. The NUJ website will shortly have registration information. All sessions are free for members to attend. The Slapps Event will take place on May 10th.
Uruguay: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Uruguayan Press Association (APU), and the International Federation of Journalists of Latin America and the Caribbean (FEPALC) will present a panel discussion at the UNESCO Global Conference on World Press Freedom Day on May 3. The discussion will center on the predicament of regional press workers in the face of digital surveillance and the necessity for collective organizing mechanisms to combat it.
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World Press Freedom Day: Quiz
- The freedom of the human mind is recognized in the right to free speech and free press.” – Calvin Coolidge
- “Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all, means the freedom to criticize and oppose.” – George Orwell
- “No prison is big enough to contain free speech.” – Mazen Darwish
- “History has given me the choice of a pen”. – Gao Yu
- “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” – Thomas Jefferson.
- “We have to uphold a free press and freedom of speech- because, in the end, lies and misinformation are no match for the truth.” – Barack Obama
- “Freedom of the press is the mortar that binds together the bricks of democracy- and it is also the open window embedded in those bricks.” – Shashi Tharoor
- “What matters is the information, not what you think about it.” – Anna Politkovskaya
International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems and to celebrate and reinforce the achievements of humanity. Being a journalist isn’t easy because the most important stories that must reach the public can also be the most dangerous and life-threatening. Take time to appreciate all the journalists out there and Have a nice day!
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