Context: World Press Freedom Day observed annually on May 3 popularly known as World Press Day is one of the calendar events planned, organised and promoted by the United Nations.
Origin and Purpose of day:
- 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.
World Press Freedom Day 2020: Theme:
- The theme of World Press Freedom Day 2020 is "Journalism without Fear or Favour" and the sub-themes for this year are:
- Safety of Women and Men Journalists and Media Workers
- Independent and Professional Journalism free from Political and Commercial Influence
- Gender Equality in All Aspect of the Media
Press freedom Index
- The Press Freedom Index is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders based upon the organisation's own assessment of the countries' press freedom records in the previous year.
- It intends to reflect the degree of freedom that journalists, news organisations, and netizens have in each country, and the efforts made by authorities to respect this freedom.
Need to celebrate the day:
- Freedom of the press is significant for keeping people informed.
- A free press monitors the administration and forces them to work for the betterment of the country.
- The press is the only tocsin of a nation. When it is completely silenced... all means of a general effort are taken away.
- The press acts as a medium of communication between the government and the people.
- The free press has a huge responsibility of reporting the truth and shaping people's opinions.
- Hence to mark the importance of the press, World Press Freedom Day is celebrated every year.
World Press Freedom Conference 2020
- Since 1993, the Global Conference has been organized annually.
- The conference provides an opportunity to journalists, civil society representatives, national authorities, academics and the broader public to discuss emerging challenges to press freedom and journalists' safety and to work together on identifying solutions.
- The Netherlands is the host for 2020.
- UNESCO planned to hold the conference from April 22 to 24 at the World Forum in The Hague.
- But due to Covid-19 a global pandemic the conference is now scheduled for October 18 to 20 at the same venue.
Declaration of Windhoek:
- The Windhoek Declaration for the Development of a Free, Independent and Pluralistic Press is a statement of press freedom principles by African newspaper journalists in 1991.
- The Declaration was produced at a UNESCO seminar, "Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press," held in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, from 29 April to 3 May 1991.
- The date of the Declaration's adoption, May 3, has subsequently been declared as World Press Freedom Day.
- The document has been viewed as widely influential, as the first in a series of such declarations around the world, and as a crucial affirmation of the international community's commitment to freedom of the press.
- Subsequently, several similar documents were drafted in other parts of the developing world:
- The Alma-Ata Declaration for central Asia,
- Sana'a Declaration for the Middle East, and
- the Santiago Declaration for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Image Source: UNESCO