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World Press Freedom Day 2019 focuses on 'journalism and elections in times of disinformation'

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 03 May 2019, 01:10 PM
United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day
United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day

The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day. This is decided on a recommendation from UNESCO. It serves as an occasion to inform citizens of violations of press freedom - a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.

One killing in 2018 which attracted global attention was that of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He was murdered last October after going to the Saudi consulate-general in Turkey.

Afghanistan remains one of the deadliest countries for journalists, with 16 deaths last year. Nine Afghan journalists died in a single incident in the capital, Kabul, after going to the site of a bomb attack to report on what had happened.

According to the United Nations, the World Press Freedom Day 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.

The theme for this year's World Press Freedom Day is “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation” and it discusses current challenges faced by media in elections.

The note for the celebration states, "Today, the contribution of free, pluralistic, independent and safe journalism to democracy is under unprecedented stress. Also, election outcomes and their aftermath are critically affected by political discourse and communications, including the role of the media in relation to the polling process.”

“Many societies have falling trust in established political parties and in news outlets themselves. This is often accompanied by a polarizing political discourse that threatens peaceful elections as well as press freedom,” the note reads.

Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day said, “Press freedom is the cornerstone of democratic societies. All States, all nations, are strengthened by information, debate and the exchange of opinions. At a time of growing discourse of mistrust and delegitimization of the press and journalism, it is essential that we guarantee freedom of opinion through the free exchange of ideas and information based on factual truths. The theme of this 26th celebration is “media for democracy: journalism and elections in times of disinformation."

First Published: Friday, May 03, 2019 01:04 PM
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