World Press Freedom Day 2021: Current Theme, History and Significance
World Press Freedom Day 2021: It is also known as World Press Day. The day also pays tribute to journalists who have lost their lives. It is announced by the United Nations General Assembly on 3rd May to spread awareness about the importance of Freedom of the Press in functioning, information providing, its significance and to awaken the government of its duty to uphold and respect the right to freedom of expression.
Amidst COVID-19 the celebrations of World Press Freedom Day will be in the form of online debates and workshops.
World Press Freedom Day 2021: Theme
The theme of World Press Freedom Day 2021 is “Information as a Public Good”. The theme focuses on the importance of cherishing information as a public good and explores ways to strengthen journalism.
The day highlights three key topics:
- Ways to ensure the economic viability of news media.
- Mechanisms for making sure about the transparency of internet companies.
- To strengthen Media and Information Literacy (MIL) capacities that will help people to recognise and value journalism as an important part of information as a public good.
The theme of World Press Freedom Day 2020 was "Journalism without Fear or Favour". A global campaign was launched by UNESCO on media and social media channels focussing on Journalism without Fear or Favour. On 4 -6 May 2020, various events including High-level Dialogue on Press Freedom and Tackling Disinformation in the COVID-19 context, webinars, and online discussions through Facebook Live, Youtube, and Microsoft teams, amongst other digital platforms will be held. On the site of UNESCO, debates are available.
Sub-themes of the year 2020 are as follows:
- Safety of Women and Men Journalists and Media Workers.
- Independent and Professional Journalism free from Political and Commercial Influence.
- Gender Equality in All Aspect of the Media.
The host for 2020 is the Netherlands. Earlier the UNESCO and Netherlands had planned to hold the conference from 22 April to 24 April at World Forum in The Hague. But now it is scheduled for 18 October to 20 October at the same venue due to COVID-19 pandemic. Let us tell you that it will be the joint celebration of World Press Freedom Day (3 May) and the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (2 November).
The theme of World Press Freedom Day 2019 was "Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation".
2019 theme focuses on the challenges faced by media in elections and also the media's potential in supporting peace and reconciliation processes. Let us tell you that the main event will take place in Addis Ababa on 1-3 May at the African Union Headquarters. This day will also examine the challenges faced by the media in ensuring freedom for the press online.
In 2018, the theme was "Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law".
In 2017, the theme was “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies”.
In 2016, the theme was “Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms – This Is Your Right!”.
World Press Freedom Day: History
In December 1993, the UN General Assembly proclaimed World Press Freedom Day, following the recommendation of UNESCO's General Conference. Since then, on 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated across the world as World Press Freedom Day. The day act as a reminder to the governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom.
World Press Freedom Day: Celebrations
- Several cultural events are organised to determine the significance of press freedom.
- Initiatives of several nations are coordinated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and most of the time it serves as an organising partner to foster the freedom of expression.
- UNESCO conferred awards to deserving organisations, individuals or institutions that have made commendable contributions in the promotion and defence of press freedom in any part of the world.
- In India, it is celebrated to salute the media journalists who risked their lives in providing information or sometimes lost their lives in the duty itself.
- Various Government officers, ministers take part while organising several events like art exhibitions; honour awards for the journalists who have risked their lives on duty etc. on this day in India.
But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the celebrations goes online. World Press Freedom Conference 2020 provides an opportunity to journalists, civil society representatives, national authorities, academics etc. to discuss the emerging challenges to press freedom and journalist's safety and to work together to find out the solutions. Since 1993, the conference is organised annually. It will be from 18-20 October, 2020 in the Hague, The Netherlands.
Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all, means the freedom to criticize and oppose - George Orwell
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. – Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
We all know that in the development of any country media plays a crucial role. It not only aware of people what is going on around the surrounding but also about the events which affect their lives. Freedom of the Press should be taken seriously as the safety of journalists while delivering information during their duties is of utmost importance. Also, freedom of speech and expression right should be respected.
Source: UNESCO, UN.org