“If media freedom is not secure, then none of the other freedoms can be guaranteed” stated the Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders Christophe Deloire during the official launch of the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, on April 26, 2017.
On May 3rd, the world will gather to commemorate World Press Freedom Day. Taking place in a very tough global context for journalism and information this year, this day will focus on the theme of “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies”. Since 1993, this day aims to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom. This year, it pays tribute to the 61 journalists who lost their lives in 2016 while trying to make information accessible for all.
This day will also look to showcase the recent attacks on the freedom of the press throughout the world. On April 26, Reporters Without Borders released its 2017 World Press Freedom Index, to help underscore the magnitude of our current media crisis. According to the organization, this index “reflects a world in which attacks on the media have become commonplace, reaching the age of post-truth, propaganda and suppression of freedoms”. Again, Syria ranked 177th, Turkmenistan 178th, Eritrea 179th and North Korea in final place at 180th, as all these countries play host to the most dire dictatorships. In direct contrast to these repressive regimes, press freedom still thrives in Scandinavian countries as Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, occupying the top four ranking positions. Historic achievements have also strengthened the freedom of the press in countries such as Colombia, which recently reached a historic peace agreement that ended a 52-year period of armed conflict, that was a source of censorship and violence against the media.
The index also alerts the reader to the erosion of freedom in many democracies. Indeed, in addition to the worsening treatment experienced by Turkish media following a failed military coup last year, the media is still facing mistrust and criticism in democratic countries. The report observes with concern the various forms of media bashing that have occurred since Donald Trump’s rise to power in the United States, but also during the Brexit campaign, which denounced “a highly toxic anti-media discourse that drove the world into a new era of post-truth, disinformation, and fake news”.
Ranked 59th in 2017, the Dominican Republic went up by 3 ranks as compared to 2016. The report concludes that “the concentration of media ownership in very few hands and a high level of impunity undermines freedom of information and encourages self-censorship in the Dominican Republic. Journalists who dare to tackle sensitive subjects such as corruption and drug trafficking are exposed to the possibility of threats and violent reprisals. The repeal in 2016 of legislation under which journalists could be imprisoned for defamation was a major step forward for the media and democracy”.
On May 3rd, join the global movement and market your support to Press Freedom. Because freedom of expression is a fundamental right, express yourself and make your voice be heard. Participate in an event taking place around you, or join the cartoon for freedom of expression campaign. You can also spread the word on social media by using the hashtags #WPFD2017 and/or #Pressfreedom, and contribute to raise awareness on the current situation worldwide.
To find out more about World Press Freedom Day, please, visit: http://en.unesco.org/wpfd