World Press Freedom Day

Chuck Zimmerman

World Press Freedom DayMay 3rd was World Press Freedom Day. This year’s theme is Journalism Without Fear or Favour. Here in the U.S.A. most people take the press for granted. Well, generally. Lately with state of political discourse being so divided it is unfortunate that the press have come under increasing fire for their reporting, which in my mind has become less about the facts and story as about how their reporting can influence public opinion. I say this of the press in general. We have very good journalists and especially those reporting on anything to do with agriculture. Not that I’m biased or anything. LOL.

I do have some concerns though about how social media has impacted the press and our ability to keep a free press. Although political differences among people and parties is evident in our “traditional” press, the impact of social media can not be ignored. How often have you heard the phrase, “We are all press/media.” When almost everyone can create a communications channel (blog, podcast, Twitter, FB and so many more) then you have a situation where anyone can write or say anything they want and it can be shared to millions of people. There is a great positive side to this but also a very negative one as very unqualified people pretend to be experts and those with political agendas espouse opinion like it’s fact. The COVID-19 situation is highlighting the best and the worst of this. Let’s hope it doesn’t result in the loss of freedoms here in our country.

Owen Roberts, University of Guelph Canada and President of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, wrote a nice thought piece for the day. You can find the full version here.

Agricultural media has always been a reliable source of information for farmers. Although agriculture is a huge industry, the media community that serves it is too small for unreliable sources to flourish for long.

And I expect one of the agricultural media’s role, that of knowledge provider and mobilizer, will become increasingly important as food insecurity intensifies.

UNESCO describes World Press Freedom Day like this:

World Press Freedom Conference3 May acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.

Later this year the Netherlands will host the World Press Freedom Conference 2020 which has been postponed from April to October.

The Netherlands is the host for 2020. UNESCO and The Netherlands had planned to hold the Conference from 22 to 24 April at the World Forum in The Hague. It is now scheduled for 18 to 20 October at the same venue. It will be a joint celebration of World Press Freedom Day (3 May) and the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (2 November). The decision to postpone the conference has been taken to minimize costs and risks for all involved, in the wake of the decision by the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic.

You can find more information here.

IFAJ, International, Media