3 May: World Press Freedom Day
The World Press Freedom Day was observed across the world on May 3, 2018 with an aim to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, defend the media from attacks and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives while being on duty.
2018 Theme: Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law
The theme of 2018 World Press Freedom Day - ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law’, highlights the importance of an empowering legal environment for press freedom and focuses on the role of an independent judiciary in ensuring legal security for press freedom and the prosecution of crimes against journalists.
The theme also throws the light upon the role of the media in fostering the sustainable development.
When and Why was the day established?
• The day was established by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO's General Conference.
• The day marks the anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration, a statement of press freedom principles put together by African newspaper journalists, which was produced at a UNESCO seminar that was held from 29 April to 3 May 1991.
UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2018
• On the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO also held a ceremony to give away the 2018 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.
• The 2018 Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize went to jailed Egyptian photographer Mahmoud Abu Zeid, popularly known as Shawkan. Abu Zeid was arrested in August 2013 for covering deadly demonstration between the security forces and supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi at Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square in Cairo, Egypt.
• He is one among the 700 defendants facing charges of killing police and vandalising property during the clashes.
2018 World Press Freedom Index
• The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on April 25, 2018 released the World Press Freedom Index 2018, reflecting growing animosity towards journalists.
• The index reflected the growing influence of political heads and rival models. It pointed out that how more and more democratically-elected leaders no longer see media as a part of democracy, but as a rival. For instance, the US Congress narrowed the freedom of press in 2017, which only led to its fall in the index from rank 43 in 2017 to rank 45 this year.
• The index was topped by Norway again for the second year, followed by Sweden at second and the Netherlands at third. Although Nordic countries dominate the index, they too were affected by the overall decline.
• India’s rank dropped down to 138th in the index this year from 136th in 2017. The index blamed PM Narendra Modi’s “troll army” for intensifying hate speeches targeting journalists on social networks.