World Press Freedom Day: A celebration and a continuous battle for real freedom
World Press Freedom Day remains an important day for journalists across the globe as there are still countries where obtaining total journalistic liberty is far from reality. Indeed, there are still countless countries where press freedom isn’t celebrated but that’s an issue only governments can explain.
For the journalists working in these areas, what’s important is they do their job as efficiently as they can despite the existing lacuna. This is laudable, and can serve as a reminder, as many journalists from freer nations tend to forget that they have to remember how precious such a thing is to others.
The numbers say it’s somewhat happening. Campaign for press freedom is becoming global, and countries that are once deprived of journalistic liberty is now gradually experiencing it.
In a recent report released by Reporters Without Borders (RWB), or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), out of 180 countries, European nations Finland, the Netherlands, and Norway lead the rankings in terms of exercising press freedom. Tunisia and Ukraine, on the other hand, are the two most improved nations after a significant decline in violence and abated conflict in their respective regions.
The organization reiterates that Europe remains the safest and freest region for journalists. Second to it is Africa, followed by North America, and Asia. North Africa and the Middle East remain the strictest and most unsafe regions for writers and media practitioners.
The United States, the center of the global economy for being the world’s most powerful nation, ranks 41st, up by 8 places from 2015. The improvement, says the report, is due to the country’s “continuous war on whistleblowers who leak information about its surveillance activities, spying and foreign operations, especially those linked to counter-terrorism.”
However, according to American press freedom advocates, the media milieu in the US has significantly changed for the worse due to the government’s rising antagonism over exposé and issues that could give policy makers negative reputation across the globe. Among the challenges that American journalists face today are verbal attacks from politicians, particularly presidential candidates, amendments in security laws in Europe, and enhanced information surveillance that makes it harder for media people to obtain government-focused stories.
“In the US, in the run up to the elections, we are seeing a huge amount of polarization in the media and we have also seen some very troubling verbal attacks against the media and against the idea that journalists should be free to criticize candidates,” Sarah Repucci, project director at non-partisan human rights-focused research group Freedom House, told the press.
The Internet is also becoming a little less safe for journalists in countries governed by authoritarian leaders. But digital media publishers believe that it is still possible to deliver the truth without breaking these countries’ respective laws on the matter. “The likes of China, Egypt, and Russia have their own restrictions on what specific news items that will end up on their local online media. It’s an obstacle, but I think the safest route is to adhere to their policies without sugarcoating the truth,” commented Dom Einhorn, CEO of multilingual business and finance news curation app Born2Invest.
Journalists, freedom advocates and the UN believe that freedom press must become a top priority for all governments around the world. Unfortunately, only 13 percent of the world’s population has a free press, an undeniable fact that shows that the ongoing event in Helsinki is still more of a continuous battle for freedom than just a simple international celebration.