Let Journalism Thrive
Image source: http://goo.gl/NYttDs
A journalist once reported that according to surveys, three out of four people around the globe comprise 75 percent of the total population. Some might ask, “Crappy broadcaster. Isn’t it obvious?” Yes, it is true that without prior verification, one can effortlessly convert the numerals into a percentage and ascertain its truth, without the need to point it out. However enticing it might be to get rid of the guy, it must not be deep-sixed that the lever that moved the fact was not the numbers — he did.
Composing timely and jaw-dropping articles, taking perfect photos and videos that just capture it all and commentating on a piece of information are about as many as few of the job descriptions those who represent journalism are laid for. Disseminating what needs to be given out, for the masses to take in, is what they do. However, as broad as the block is ahead of them, many a happening have tried to build an asteroid out of it. Those who are brave enough still have to patiently tear the colossus rock into pieces to be able to communicate and get through.
Earlier this year, the office of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly newspaper based in Paris, known for its irreverent and non-conformist tone of posting, turned into a shootout field by a group of Islamist terrorists from Yemen’s Al Qaeda, leaving 11 dead and 11 others wounded. After weeks of search and capture operations, the armed gunmen, who have identified themselves, claimed that their motives were fulfilled as the paper wavered into a full stop. They said that they responded horrendously because of an unjust and crystal clear partisan publishing they were bombarded with.
Scenarios are not so different in the Philippines. According to the Philippine Star, the Committee to Protect Journalists has confirmed 77 Filipino media workers to have been murdered since 1992 in connection with their work. Thirty of these victims were massacred in Ampatuan, Maguindanao in November 2009, and seven more were killed during the present administration. The country improved by points up until the current year, but remained as one of the three most dangerous countries for media workers.
It may or may not be in recent memories that something very familiar had occurred. The cultural gaps and differences between countries and sectors alike might be vast and dreadfully deep, but the right to be able to express oneself freely always and always has to persist. What one says may gracefully praise the singer-songwriter John Mayer or hate the black race, but it is of clear foolishness and ignorance that those who are praised stink voluntarily of negative reactions and those who are offended kill the writers.
A lesson has been continuously knocking down on doors, and annually, since December of 1991, all celebrate the World Press Freedom Day — or just World Press Day — to mark the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a principal statement drawn up by a group of African journalists who envisioned a world that fears nothing as long as it knows everything. Held on the same date each year, May 3, the event alarms as a poignant reminder to people who take the freedom of expression for granted while many live in fear and publish a totally censored and draped over truth.
This year’s theme, “Let Journalism Thrive! Towards better reporting, gender equality and media safety in the digital age”, is anchored on empowering the dire focus and necessity for the forgotten press freedom that has only been recently acquired. UNESCO, the United Nations agency mandated to promote and protect press freedom, has named three more specific themes for this year’s World Press Day: quality journalism, gender descriptive and digital media safety.
Over 100 different national celebrations take place each year. A category 3, non-governmental conference will be held in Riga, Latvia alongside celebrations of individual organizations, publications and political offices that want to pay tribute to those who have suffered agony for being in the industry and continue to persevere as vanguards of truth and transparency. In Zimbabwe, the main activity will be a two-day conference on the topic “World-wide trends and best practices on regulation” and will include presentations by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information of the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights. In Botswana, the chapter will launch the annual publication “So This Is Democracy” as conclusion.
World Press Day, which has only been celebrated since 1993, seeps into the deeper roots of the tree of human rights that just keeps on flourishing. The United Nations’ Universal Declaration on Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” It has always been conducted to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, assess its state throughout the world and defend the media from attacks of their independence.
A joint message by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein noted, “Quality journalism enables citizens to make informed decisions about their society’s development. It also works to expose injustice, corruption, and the abuse of power.”
The only thing that keeps people open to the current world of injustice and corruption is what they know. Information is key to amplifying the momentum that moves everyone forward. However, how would one progress when there is no one to make sure that this is properly forwarded?