For a long period, it was a part of one’s morning routine to read a newspaper while having breakfast. Now that routine has changed to scrolling through various news apps to learn about the world’s happenings. The bottom line is that journalism or the press is a major part of our lives. We need to know what new event is taking place somewhere on this planet. The press is directly linked to freedom of speech, which also translates to freedom of the press. Hence, to highlight our press freedom, there is World Press Freedom Day.
The 03rd of May is designated as World Press Freedom Day, and this year’s theme, “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as a Driver for all other human rights” (working title), will highlight how freedom of expression is necessary for the protection and enjoyment of all other human rights.
On May 2, the UN Headquarters will host a full day of events in honor of World Press Freedom Day’s anniversary. Events focusing on the topic of this year are welcomed to be planned in New York and all around the world by partners in the media, academia, and civil society.
Responsibilities and Press Freedom
Now, with great power, comes great responsibilities.
With all the press freedom granted to journalists, and press around the world, it is important to keep a check on them. Making sure they do well with the freedom they have and not misuse them on any level.
During crisis times, like the global pandemic, for instance, the press helped quite a few people by keeping them informed. About quarantine zones, availability of resources, and general cautions. That’s the job profile of journalists, or press- making people aware.
In case of natural calamities, the press is the one letting the world know and join hands to contribute and help.
The press also acts like a common notice board to put up notices regarding houses, name changes, job vacancies, or real estate.
When we talk about freedom of press, we talk about all these resources that are available to the general public through the press and its branches.
There have been certain violations that have led to people fearing a certain type of press to not spread any misinformation or threats. Many-a-times having led to chaos, there are people of the opinion that press freedom is dangerous to society.
The latest example of a violation is the recent earthquakes in Türkiye when the local reporters were seen reporting the ground reality, but others were seen (allegedly) defaming the police or the state through their reporting.
This led to violence against some journalists, which wasn’t something the region needed in the time of an ongoing crisis.
Another serious example of this kind of misinformation is when there were rumors in Jharkhand, India about child kidnapping. These baseless rumors led to quite a serious mob lynching in the region.
People get worked up when it comes to rumors and news like these and hook on to any source they can find; bidding farewell to cross-checking and credibility.
Violence against Journalists
While performing their duties, journalists encounter threats and intimidation from all over the world. This can manifest as derision from the general public or slurs from audience members or someone who has been embroiled in a narrative. But occasionally, while doing their jobs, journalists experience physical, mental, and emotional abuse both online and offline.
A global trend toward violence against journalists is particularly pronounced in nations (such as Egypt and the Philippines) where press freedom is not effectively safeguarded. However, it is becoming more of an issue in the US as well.
Journalist violence is one of the variables taken into account by the World Press Freedom Index. Nearly 400 journalists were assaulted and more than 130 were detained in 2020 alone, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. This was a significant increase from even just five years prior, and it indicates a shift in societal attitudes toward journalists, specifically an increase in hostility.