May, 3, this Friday, is the United Nations declared, World Press Freedom Day.
The website notes the day is an opportunity to:
- -celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;
- -assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;
- -defend the media from attacks on their independence;
- -pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Robert Fife is a long respected journalist, editor, author, and currently Ottawa Bureau Chief of the Globe and Mail newspaper, considered a “journal of record” in Canada.Listen
World Press Freedom Day was first created back in late 1993, which set May 3 as the annual date. The theme this year Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.
Mr Fife notes that there are concerted efforts now, often –but not exclusively- through social media to misinform the public. He stresses that people should verify stories through the many credible mainstream news agencies which have to be held accountable for what they produce.
He also expresses concern about the diminishing number of journalists and news staff due to budget cuts from advertising revenue diverted to other streams, notably on the internet. In smaller centres, news operations are being lost entirely meaning a lack of accountability for local politicians and police. In larger centres it means a reduction in investigative resources, again meaning some important issues, and possibly corruption or waste of taxes, goes undiscovered.
While he also expresses dismay over another trend of advertisments posing as news stories, he still he has faith in consumers ability to detect such efforts and again stresses that people should verify stories by going to mainstream outlets.
Message from UN Secretary-General on WPFD (Youtube video)