World Press Freedom Day 2015
- Every year, May 3rd is a date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
- 3 May was proclaimed World Press Freedom Day the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO's General Conference in 1991.
- It serves as an occasion to inform citizens of violations of press freedom - a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.
- It is a date to encourage and develop initiatives in favour of press freedom, and to assess the state of press freedom worldwide.
- It serves 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. Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
Themes of World Press Freedom Day 2015
Independent and Quality Media
Quality journalism can be an abstract concept to grasp as there is no universal set of criteria of quality journalism. Often, it is dependent on socio-political and cultural characteristics and constraints. The changing influence of commercialization and concentration of ownership also impacts on the independence and quality of journalism. Numbers of awards, audience share, the resources available for newsroom, audience responses and participation, and industry’s perception can all be part of the indicators of quality. Independence of the newsroom is also a crucial indicator: from editors being able to set the agenda to the individual reporter’s ability to seek out news story. The quality issue is further complicated by the proliferation of social media producers of news. What is clear is that investigative journalism, in particular, relies on the qualities of accurate, in-depth and critical reporting on matters of special public concern, work which often requires long and difficult research.
Gender and Media (With Special Focus on the 20th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Change)
Amongst many ambitious objectives, the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action includes two explicit goals which are to “increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication” and “promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media”. Twenty years on, obstacles are still present in today’s media industry, ranging from imbalanced access to information and under-representation of women to insufficient media coverage of gender issues and outright violence against female journalists and women.
Digital safety for journalists and their sources
With ever more sophisticated surveillance mechanisms, anonymity of sources could be a thing of the past. Is it possible to keep journalists’ sources confidential in the digital age? Can journalism move forward without anonymity of sources? What are the consequences of public trust for journalists? Are established limitations of surveillance, indicated in UN General Assembly resolutions, sufficient to address the boundaries between the right to privacy, especially with regard to sources, and authorities’ justifications to surveillance? Journalists and others who contribute to journalism also face a myriad of other digital security challenges, including software and hardware exploits without the knowledge of the target; phishing attacks; fake domain attacks; man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks; denial of service (DoS) attacks; website defacement; compromised user accounts; intimidation, harassment and forced exposure of online networks; disinformation and smear campaigns; confiscation of journalistic work product, and data storage and mining. What can be done to better safeguard digital privacy and the security of digital data?