September 21, 2019

The Editor speaks: Press freedom

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Colin Wilson

Friday May 3rd is World Press Freedom Day.

Already there is one item we, in the press, can celebrate:

Fewer journalists killed compared to previous year!

The lower intensity of conflict in Syria and Iraq has contributed to this decrease, observes PEC.

The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) noted with satisfaction a decrease in the number of journalists killed so far in the year compared with the same period last year.

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, the PEC noted a 56% decrease registering 20 victims in 12 countries from January 1 to April 30 against 46 during the same period last year, using the same metrics. The figure is the lowest figure since 2006.

PEC Secretary-General Blaise Lempen observed the lower intensity of conflict in Syria and Iraq contributed to this decrease. In addition, the continuous engagement of governments, associations and civil society in favor of the issue of the safety of journalists has certainly produced positive effects. It is also true that other means are used to neutralize journalists.

The situation remains steadily hostile in Mexico with six journalists killed and Afghanistan with four killed, which adds up to half the victims since the beginning of 2019.

One journalist was killed in the following countries: Ghana, Honduras, India, Iraq, Northern Ireland, Kenya, Libya, Pakistan, the Philippines and Yemen.

The PEC strongly condemns the killings and calls for quick identification of the killers and bringing them to justice.

SOURCE: https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/event/2019/05/02/world-press-freedom-day-2019

From UNESCO:

The main celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2019 will take place in Addis Ababa, from 1 to 3 May 2019. The event will provide a platform for multiple actors to exchange on current issues, threats and achievements concerning freedom of the press.

The overall theme of the event will be the role of media in elections and democracy. A wide range of sessions (plenaries, debates, lightning talks, etc.) will address different aspects of the overall theme.

Some 100 national events around the world are expected to complement the main celebration.

The attendance of the UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, as well as of high-level government representatives is expected. Participants will also include representatives of civil society, media organizations, professional associations, academia and the judiciary.

On 2 May, the UNESCO Director-General will award the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to an individual or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence of press freedom.

The event will also host an academic conference on the safety of journalists which will allow researchers from different disciplines to share and discuss recent research. This will be the fourth edition of the conference, aimed at bridging the gap between academic research, policy-making and journalism.

As in the previous years, WPFD will host a Youth Newsroom, which will bring on board young journalists and journalism students to cover the event and expand their reporting skills.

A number of cultural events and performances will be included in the programme.

END

What are we celebrating here?

Our Press Freedom.

No journalist has been murdered for trying to do his job here.

That’s what I’m celebrating.

NOTE: I cannot comment on what our Governor has said as it is embargoed until after midnight tonight. Please do read it.

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Comments

  1. John Evans says:

    This is something that is under-reported to the extent that most people find it difficult to grasp unless, as I have, they’ve seen it first-hand. I was in Yugoslavia in 1991 and during my fairly brief time out there it was alleged that 54 members of various media services were killed, most of them targeted deliberately by the Serbs. If memory serves me correctly none of them were attached to any of the larger news organisations and most were either freelance, like myself, or from local and Eastern European outlets so the lack of mainstream Western media interest was, in a way, understandable.

    I vividly remember Croatian TV repeatedly showing footage of one of their cameramen shot dead by a soldier on a JNA tank. You actually saw the shot fired and the camera fall to the ground. He was killed simply because he pointed the camera in what the Serbs regarded as the wrong direction. Shortly before I arrived two Austrian journalists were killed at Ljubljana airport in Croatia. I’d had to fly in through Zagreb because the airport was closed but when I drove over to check things out (the hangers had been strafed) their burned-out vehicle was still there. A Russian TV crew of four disappeared completely – their two hire cars, equipment and bodies were, as far as I know, never recovered. And it went on like that.

    The irony of Yugoslavia is that while everyone ignored these killings, when NATO took out the RTS TV station in Belgrade in 1999 there was a public outcry. Right from the start that TV station had made itself a legitimate target (something that was admitted years later) by abandoning any pretence of objective journalism and becoming just a propaganda machine for the Milosevic government. I passed through Belgrade in July 1991 and watched the evening news on TV in my hotel – the fighting in the North got a few seconds coverage. The big news story was about the installation of plastic netting to stop pigeons nesting in the roofs of the historic buildings. That’s not exercising press freedom or anything like it.

    When you watch coverage from conflict zones today you will note that journalists and their crews all wear body armour and helmets – that was forced on us in Yugoslavia and I was one of the first to do it.

    And when we observe World Freedom Day let us all remember Lyra McKee – shot dead on 18 April covering riots in Northern Ireland at the age of 29. That didn’t happen in some far off war – it happened in the UK.

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