2015 Theme: Let Journalism Thrive! Towards better reporting, gender equality and media safety in the digital age
World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day. It is an opportunity to:
- celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;
- assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;
- defend the media from attacks on their independence;
- pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
This year UNESCO, the United Nations agency mandated to promote and protect press freedom worldwide, has named renowned journalist and CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour its Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of Expression and Journalist Safety.
UNESCO is focusing on three themes for World Press Freedom Day this year:
- The need for “quality journalism” – reporting that is accurate and independent, remains a constant concern in a media landscape that is changing due to technological and commercial developments.
- Gender imbalance continues in the media 20 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Change. All too few women journalists are able to reach decision-making positions in the media.
- The third theme is digital safety, a topic of growing concern because digital communications makes it difficult for journalists to protect themselves and their sources.
The annual UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize ceremony will take place on 3 May 2015 at the National Library of Latvia in Riga. The winner is Syrian journalist and human rights activist, Mazen Darwish, who is currently imprisoned.
Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through mediums including various electronic media and published materials. While such freedom mostly implies the absence of interference from an overreaching state, its preservation may be sought through constitutional or other legal protections.
With respect to governmental information, any government may distinguish which materials are public or protected from disclosure to the public based on classification of information as sensitive, classified or secret and being otherwise protected from disclosure due to relevance of the information to protecting the national interest. Many governments are also subject to sunshine laws or freedom of information legislation that are used to define the ambit of national interest.
About Freedom of the press
The United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”
The concept of freedom of speech is often covered by the same laws as freedom of the press, thereby giving equal treatment to spoken and published expression.
In 2011–2012, the countries where press was the most free were Finland, Norway and Germany, followed by Estonia, Netherlands, Austria, Iceland, and Luxembourg. The country with the least degree of press freedom was Eritrea, followed by North Korea, Turkmenistan, Syria, Iran, and China.