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World Press Freedom Day: Information as a Public Good

The year 2019 was treacherous for the journalism fraternity. Altogether, 25 journalists were killed in the line of duty, some murdered in co...

The year 2019 was treacherous for the journalism fraternity. Altogether, 25 journalists were killed in the line of duty, some murdered in cold blood for seeking to inform the public.

In January 2019, Ahmed Hussein-Suale Divela, 33, was shot dead by two men riding a motorbike in Accra, Ghana. His crime: reporting corruption involving Ghana’s national soccer team.

By @Comic24Derick

In Tabasco, Mexico, 11 June 2019 was a black day for the media, when Norma Sarabia Garduza, 46 was shot to death in her home. Before her death, she had been reporting on a series of murders and kidnappings in Huimanguillo.

These are some of the unfortunate incidences that engulf the noble profession daily, the international Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) noted. However, journalists continue to pursue their duties despite the pressing challenges.

World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), celebrated yearly on May 3 “acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics,” according to UNESCO.
The 2021 World Press Freedom Day will be Celebrated Under the Theme: Information as a Public Good (Image: Al Jazeera) 
The day also celebrates journalists who die on duty, including the 25 who died in 2019. “World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom,” UNESCO adds. “It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.”

The 2021 theme, “Information as a Public Good” tackles misinformation and other harmful content, according to the UNESCO, Director-General Audrey Azoulay.

“The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, “Information as a Public Good”, underlines the indisputable importance of verified and reliable information,” says Azoulay. “It calls attention to the essential role of free and professional journalists in producing and disseminating this information, by tackling misinformation and other harmful content.”

The day “serves as a call to affirm the importance of cherishing information as a public good, and exploring what can be done in the production, distribution and reception of content to strengthen journalism, and to advance transparency and empowerment while leaving no one behind.”

“The theme is of urgent relevance to all countries across the world. It recognizes the changing communications system that is impacting on our health, our human rights, democracies and sustainable development.

For 2021, WPFD will focus on three key topics.

To underline the importance of information within our online media environment, WPFD 2021 will highlight three key topics including, steps to ensure the economic viability of news media and mechanisms for ensuring transparency of Internet companies.

Thirdly, to enhance Media and Information Literacy capacities that enable people to recognize and value, as well as defend and demand, journalism is a vital part of the of information as a public good.

World Press Freedom Day originated in the Windhoek conference of 1991. At the conclusion, on 3 May, the landmark Windhoek Declaration was adopted. And 20 years later, the 2021 Global Conference will be hosted by UNESCO and the Government of Namibia, Windhoek from 29 April to 3 May.

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