World Press Freedom Day: How to Get Involved

May 3, 2014, marks the 21st anniversary of World Press Freedom Day! In December 1993, the United Nations declared that May 3 would be dedicated to media development.

The Mission

 

According to the United Nations website, there are four main objectives of World Press Freedom Day:

  • Celebrate the fundamental principles of freedom of the press.
  • Assess the state of press freedom around the world.
  • Defend the media from any attacks on their independence.
  • Pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty

Freedom of opinion and expression is outlined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, making World Press Freedom Day especially significant within the international development space. Organizations such as Reporters Without Borders release a Press Freedom Index every year. They partner with The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the UN to bring change to the current international environment by ensuring that Article 19 is respected and upheld around the world.

The theme of World Press Freedom Day 2014 is “Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda.” This theme emphasizes the importance of transparency in the media and regulatory reform of any laws that detrimentally affect or criminalize the right to free press.

The UN and UNESCO also encourage journalists to continue doing what they do best by awarding the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to journalists who have shown outstanding dedication to freedom of expression and information.

How to Get Involved

If you want to get involved, there are many World Press Freedom Day events you can participate in. You can contribute to the overall mission by raising awareness in your own community via social media, or you can attend one of the following events:

  • Starting May 5, the annual UNESCO World Press Freedom Day International Conference will take place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. This two-day conference will focus on the theme, “Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda,” and will feature workshops on the media’s role in development, the safety of journalists, and the sustainability and integrity of journalism. For more information and to register, visit the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day International Conference 2014 page.
  • The Ottawa World Press Freedom Day 2014 Conference, hosted by the Canadian Committee of World Press Freedom, will take place at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada, on May 2. This event is open to journalists, politicians, academics, media executives, and other champions of freedom of expression. At this event, John Ralston Saul, president of Pen International, will lead a lunch discussion on the issue of secrecy, surveillance, and free expression.
  • On April 19 at Tsinghua University in Beijing, the UNESCO Office in Beijing, China, hosted a Roundtable in Global Media Ethics. The bureau will also promote World Press Freedom Day on May 3 through the Beijing Office website and their Chinese social media (Weibo) account.
  • Many organizations will be hosting a World Press Freedom Day half-day conference on May 3 in Rabat, Morocco. The theme will be “Media and Freedom of Information’s Importance for Development.” The first session will focus on freedom of information and media in Moroccan development, and the second session will concentrate on empowering women and youth in the media. If you cannot attend the conference in person, you can view the live stream online on the day of the event.

For more information on World Press Freedom Day, visit the UNESCO website.

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