It is a date to encourage and develop initiatives in favour of press freedom, and to assess the state of press freedom worldwide
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.
related: World Press Freedom Day
Fostering Freedom of Expression
As the United Nations agency with a specific mandate to promote “the free flow of ideas by word and image”, UNESCO works to foster free, independent and pluralistic media in print, broadcast and online. Media development in this mode enhances freedom of expression, and it contributes to peace, sustainability, poverty eradication and human rights.
This foundation is why UNESCO today promotes policies for press freedom and the safety of journalists, and why we support independent journalism based on professional ethics and self-regulatory principles.
For UNESCO, pluralistic and diverse media provides information options so that the public can make good choices. This is why today we also help to build community media in particular, and why we foster gender equity in the media. In order to empower individuals as informed producers and consumers of information, UNESCO has initiatives in media and information literacy and in journalism education.
The stories of Lee Wei Ling and Roy Ngerng – ‘How connected you are’ seems to be a factor in how press freedom is applied here
As countries across the globe commemorate World Press Freedom Day, it is noteworthy to remember two events this year that touched on the issue of press freedom in Singapore.
Singapore is not renowned for its indulgence on free speech and press anatomy. Lee Kuan Yew and other members of his government have famously pursued rigorous legal actions against errant press with excellent results. This has arguably kept the press in line as it practiced self-censorship to avoid any potential legal liabilities.
As a result of control that can be perceived as overtly stringent, Singapore’s reputation in the sphere of civil liberties has always been low. Indeed, Singapore routinely leads the list from the bottom where press freedom is concerned. Just a few weeks ago, Singapore achieved the dubious honour of dropping further on the World Press Freedom Index – Just in time for World Press Freedom Day!
related: Singapore drops to 154th spot in World Press Freedom Index
World Press Freedom Index 2016
A “deep and disturbing” decline in media freedom
The 2016 edition of the World Press Freedom Index, which Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published on 20 April, 2016, shows that there has been a deep and disturbing decline in respect for media freedom at both the global and regional levels.
Ever since the 2013 Index, RSF has been calculating indicators of the overall level of media freedom violations in each of the world’s regions and worldwide. The higher the figure, the worse the situation. The global indicator has gone from 3719 points last year to 3857 points this year, a 3.71% deterioration. The decline since 2013 is 13.6%.
The many reasons for this decline in freedom of information include the increasingly authoritarian tendencies of governments in countries such as Turkey and Egypt, tighter government control of state-owned media, even in some European countries such as Poland, and security situations that have become more and more fraught, in Libya and Burundi, for example, or that are completely disastrous, as in Yemen.