The United Nations Secretary-General says World Press Freedom Day is a time to shine a spotlight on the essential work of journalists and other media workers who seek transparency and accountability for those in power, often at great personal risk.
Journalists have been central to reporting on the growing risk of climate change to all countries especially those in Africa.
The UN’s Antonio Guterres has lauded the role of media workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency but warned that they continued to face threats.
“The threats to the freedom of journalists and media workers are growing by the day. From global health to the climate crisis, corruption, and human rights abuses, they face increased politicization of their work and attempts to silence them from many sides. Digital technology has democratized access to information. But it has also created serious challenges. The business models of many social media platforms are based not on increasing access to accurate reporting, but on increasing engagement – which often means provoking outrage and spreading lies.”
Guterres has warned that although the tools have changed, the goal of some of those in power of discrediting the media and perpetuating fake news, remains the same.
“The United Nations is working to support journalists and media workers everywhere. Ten years ago, we established a Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists, to protect media workers and end impunity for crimes committed against them. On World Press Freedom Day, we honour the essential work of the media in speaking truth to power, exposing lies, and building strong, resilient institutions and societies. We call on governments, media organizations, and technology companies everywhere to support these crucial efforts.”
US President Joe Biden has also honoured journalists: