Today is World Press Freedom Day.
Proclaimed in 1993 by the UN General Assembly, 3 May celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom. As a former journalist this day means a lot to me. It provides the chance 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.
In this current global climate of ‘fake news’ and misinformation that flies into our phones, our inboxes and our consciousness every day, the importance of independent, professional and properly researched journalism is more important than ever.
This year’s theme “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation” discusses current challenges faced by media in elections, along with the media’s potential in supporting peace and reconciliation processes.
The major celebration of World Press Freedom Day is in Addis Ababa at the African Union Headquarters and is jointly organised by UNESCO, the African Union and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
Locally, PEN Perth is holding an event Spotlight on Colombia at the Centre for Stories. Local Colombian intellectual and PEN Perth committee member Karen Escobar, will comment on the current situation in Colombia by weaving personal anecdote with political commentary, social history, and cultural observation. For more information and to book for the event, please go to the Centre for Stories website.
This event is a part of PEN’s ‘spotlight’ series, which focus on the plight of writers, artists and journalists in countries experiencing hardship and how that might affect responsible freedom of expression, media censorship, and political interference.
I’m also excited to see that one of the leading advocates for press freedom in Australia, and PEN Perth Patron, Peter Greste, will be giving a keynote address on Fake news and false history: The use and abuse of truth and lies at Notre Dame University in Fremantle on 17 May. It’s free and you can book for it via eventbrite.