The beginning of a statement on the 2021 World Press Freedom Day, issued by the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) Press Freedom Committee, starts with the following:
Yes, we should be enthusiastic about celebrating the International Press Freedom Day on May the third. Unfortunately, there is a risk that the toast we raise this year is a bitter one, and there are several reasons to believe that the situation is not better for agricultural journalists than for journalists in other sectors.
The best thing we can do right now is to try to encourage each other and strengthen our connections with journalists who face threats and repression.
In the statement you’ll find information on decreasing democracy and freedom, public mistrust of journalists and more. This is over the last ten years. Included is a link to the Freedom House report, Freedom in the World: Democracy Under Siege. It shows a significant decline in the United States Freedom Under Siege aggregate score. Reasons include: political corruption and conflicts of interest, lack of transparency in government and punitive immigration and asylum policies. Looking at the overall decline in freedom this past year a significant factor is, as you might think, the whole COVID-19 situation. There is no question that many governments took advantage of this with “excessive or abusive lockdown rules” or “to cover up consolidation of power and suppress dissent.”
I’ll add a point of personal opinion regarding the actions taken by large tech corporations which I believe is also repressing true press freedom. You can argue all you want that Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and others are not “the press.” However, when you see where people are getting their news and a platform like Facebook is at the top you know the power they have. They’ve all shown a willingness to remove anything that doesn’t conform with their views. That’s not freedom.