Have you ever felt the frustration of being ignored by the teacher when you complained about your classmate teasing you? Or elders scolding you when you tried to counter their opinions? Now imagine this happening on the global scale; it is terrifying and utterly wrong. But some people work day and night, many times in dangerous situations, to make people’s voices heard and to raise issues of concern across the world. These are journalists, and World Press Freedom Day is the day to support their work.
May 3 was proclaimed as International Press Day in 1993 by the UN General Assembly upon recommendation of UNESCO's General Conference. So, mark your calendars on May 3 this year to support and celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom as each year 3rd May is celebrated as World Press Freedom Day. This year, it is hosted in Uruguay. With the advent of digitalization, UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day theme for 2022 is ‘Journalism Under Digital Siege’.
The theme focuses on how today’s journalism is in danger by multiple digital surveillance strategies and attacks on journalists. It aims to highlight the consequences of the digitalization overshadowing true journalism on the public trust in digital communications.
Let us read and understand why freedom of press is important and what is the need to celebrate World Press Freedom Day. Also, know how India ranks in the press freedom index and what can you do to improve it.
"Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all, means the freedom to criticize and oppose." - George Orwell
Upholding this truth and the fact that journalism today is under digital attack, the World Press Freedom Day is celebrated each year to make people aware of the number of censored, fined, suspended and closed down media publications, to encourage them to develop initiatives to protect press freedom, and to hold those accountable responsible for suppressing freedom of expression.
Through International Press Day, people understand the importance of press and the freedom of press; the press that is the medium of direct communication between the government and the people. The fourth pillar of democracy, the press is responsible for reporting the truth which has the ability to create and mould people's opinions all across the world. A free press holds those in power accountable, therefore, safeguarding its freedom is important.
The day is also celebrated to commemorate the fundamental principles of press freedom and to support the defence of the media from attacks on their independence. It is celebrated to inform people of all the violations of press freedom happening in many countries around the world, and media professionals being harassed, attacked, arrested, and even murdered just for doing their jobs.
World Press Freedom Index is an annual list of countries prepared by Reporters Without Borders (RWB), a Paris based international non-governmental organization that works to protect the right to freedom of expression and information.
Norway topped the list in 2021. But can you guess India’s rank, the largest democracy in the world? We bet you cannot. The previous two years World Press Freedom Index 2022 India rank is 142, which fell two places from 2019, however, the list has not yet been published for 2022.
India’s performance has been disappointing in the World Press Freedom Index, as being the largest democracy its government pledges to uphold the freedom of press. Its steadily decreasing rank is a serious matter of concern for the citizens and has stirred serious debates amongst journalists, governments, political parties, and bureaucrats. In response, the Government of India has refused to accept the rankings and has questioned the authenticity of the data prepared by Reporters Without Borders.
Citizens should come together and demand their governments to pass a strict law that would protect the journalists as well as their sources. While, on an individual level, people can help protect the freedom of the press by speaking against any violation of the principles of the press, being informed about what is happening in the media industry, and contributing to support free media.
People can do so by supporting local media publications and by not falling into the trap of mass agenda run by some privately owned media houses.
Share these World Press Freedom Day 2022 quotes by famous personalities with those around you to inspire them to stand up for their right to freedom of expression and information.
"Freedom of the press is a precious privilege that no country can forego." - Mahatma Gandhi
"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.
"Freedom of the press belongs to the people of a nation, not to the owners of publications." - A. J. Liebling
"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
"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech." - Benjamin Franklin
"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
So, come together this year as a community to remind the government of its commitment to let the media work independently, and to remember the journalists who lost their lives in line of duty, trying to give a voice to the people around the world. Defend your right for true news while you still can!