Journalists around the world use this day as a platform to raise attention to the vital need for freedom of speech everywhere. At the same time, it is a day for the media to examine itself.
A self-regulating media community is entrusted with the daunting duty for absolute vigilance and transparency within itself. This duty is under pressure from many areas.
Social media and the internet as a whole are full of untrained ‘reporters’, answerable only to themselves, who are unburdened by the sacred duty of journalists to check stories, follow a general international code of media ethics, balance reporting and seek as many angles possible about ‘the truth.’
Pressures of rapidly decreasing advertising dollars, the overall public shifts to online sources for information rather than traditional print media or mainstream television networks, and fewer motivated and skilled young people making journalism a career choice, are all challenges to be considered on World Press Freedom Day. The stakes for fair, balanced reporting are raised even further when the object of unfavourable news articles are regular advertisers or those who contribute to the financial sustenance of a media outlet in some way.
At the same time, governments everywhere continue to attack the media for ‘being disrespectful’ or ‘in need of regulation (read: censorship).’ The Trump-inspired specter of ‘fake news’ is a particularly odious tool of some power brokers to trivialize dissention and cast aspersions on those who see the world in a different way.
The World Press Freedom Day was officially announced by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in December 1993.
“As a government, we take note of the unwavering and unbreakable spirit of journalists despite the challenges they face. The media has continued to act as a relenting voice of the voiceless in its toil to expose corrupt practices and administrative malpractice, which if not exposed could be detrimental to the growth society”, the Namibian Minister of Information and Communication technology, Stanley Simataa, said in a press statement on Tuesday, released 02 May 2018.
Simataa also stated that the media needs a favorable policy and legal environment, which exists in the Namibian constitution. And in spite of our achievements in advocating media freedom he believes that more still needs to be done.
World Press Freedom Day is also an important annual moment of silence, to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.