UNESCO and DPI team up to mark World Press Freedom Day

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

New York | iSeek

The importance of critical thinking to decipher false reporting was the subject of a panel discussion held at UNHQ New York on 4 May to mark World Press Freedom Day 2017. Organized by DPI NGO Relations (Department of Public Information) and UNESCO, the discussion was held under the theme “Critical Minds for Critical Times: The Media’s Role in Advancing Peaceful, Just, and Inclusive Societies”.  

In his video message that opened the discussion, the Secretary-General António Guterres stressed how a free media was crucial to advancing peace and justice for all. “We need leaders to defend the free media”, Guterres said. “This is crucial to counter prevailing misinformation and we need everyone to stand for our right to truth.” He called for an end to the crackdown against journalists and said their words and pictures can change the world.

Sherwin Bryce-Pease, President of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA), emphasized that journalists have become casualties of a polarized world, working against forces that undermine the work they do.

“Journalists are often berated, accused of taking sides and punished for reporting on bad behaviour, while the bad behaviour goes unpunished”, he said.  

Another theme in the discussion was the perilous environment in which journalists work. “Journalists often put their lives on the line to expose injustices and the space for journalists to report free from interference is narrowing”, said Marie Paule Roudil, UNESCO Representative to the United Nations and Director of UNESCO’s New York Office. According to UNESCO, journalists are murdered every four days and the killers are almost never punished. (*see note below.)

Other speakers included Sofia Borges, Jan Kickert, David Scharia, Jay Rosen, Sarah l. Ryley, Bob Garfield, Emma Daly, Yoshita Singh, and Laurence Goldbetter. Moderators included Margaret Novicki, Officer-in-Charge, Department of Public Information and Ramu Damodaran, Acting Director of DPI’s Outreach Division.  

World Press Freedom Day was established by the General Assembly in 1993. The UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, named in honour of assassinated journalist Guillermo Cano Isaza, was created in 1997.  

* Note: Over the last decade, more than 800 journalists have been killed, or one every 4 days. Nine of 10 cases remain unsolved. For additional information, please visit: UNESCO Condemns Killing of Journalists