Media Freedom Coalition – World Press Freedom Day Statement, 3rd May 2023

On this World Press Freedom Day, we, the undersigned members of the Media Freedom Coalition, pay tribute to journalists and media workers all over the world and the work they do in informing the public, exposing wrongdoing, revealing untold stories, and holding the powerful to account.

Today is the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day. The recommendation adopted by UNESCO that led to the establishment of this day declared that “a free, pluralist and independent press is an essential component of any democratic society.”

Never has this been more true than it is today. Democracies cannot function without journalists scrutinising governments and providing accurate information on the opportunities and challenges facing society.

Independent journalism is also essential to the full enjoyment of human rights, as made clear by the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day: “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights.” 

The information that journalists provide can help citizens to better understand and secure the full protection stemming from their inherent rights; when fundamental freedoms are denied it is so often journalists who are the first to expose this.

As a global partnership of 51 countries from six continents, the Media Freedom Coalition is forthright in its belief that journalists and media workers must be free to carry out their critically important work, and we remain deeply concerned by the multitude of threats and challenges they face, both offline and online.

Journalists – in all their diversity – are subjected to physical attacks, hate speech and online abuse. Journalists in vulnerable situations may face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and harassment, including due to gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability. 

Women journalists are disproportionately targeted online, while the number of women journalists killed is increasing. Impunity for crimes against journalists remains far too high, with 9 out of 10 killings of journalists going unpunished. 

Powerful companies and individuals continue to abuse the legal system to shut down or undermine the credibility of journalists trying to report on them. 

Criminal defamation laws remain in force in 80% of countries according to UNESCO, while other laws that are unrelated to journalistic activity are increasingly being used to stifle and shut down independent reporting.

Misinformation and disinformation, including gendered disinformation, continue to erode trust in the media, and to be used as a pretext for repression. Powerful companies, including social media platforms, have not always taken adequate steps to promote information integrity, which has contributed to a decline of public trust in journalism.

Many media outlets from all over the world are struggling to remain financially viable in a challenging business environment with dwindling advertising revenues. Journalists should be fairly paid for their work. 

Today, the Media Freedom Coalition honours all journalists and media workers, and the vital work they do. 

We particularly pay tribute to journalists who are persecuted or unjustly detained simply for doing their jobs, and those who have been forced to flee their home country and continue their important work abroad. These journalists are an inspiration to us all.

The members of the Coalition call on governments to end repression and the stifling of independent journalism in all its forms, including the use of inflammatory rhetoric about media, and to create enabling environments in which free, independent media can flourish.

The Media Freedom Coalition applauds those governments that have taken concrete actions to advance media freedom, at home or abroad, whether through legal and policy reforms, actions by embassies, funding and other support to independent media, or by providing safe refuge to journalists who have fled their country. 

We encourage governments to listen to journalists and media and the civil society organizations that represent them, to ensure their own actions in defence of media freedom are well-informed and coordinated.

The Media Freedom Coalition reaffirms its commitment to upholding media freedom, which is essential to the security, prosperity and wellbeing of all societies.

Signed:

Argentina
Australia
Austria
Belize
Botswana
Bulgaria
Canada
Chile
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cyprus
Czechia
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Ghana
Greece
Guyana
Honduras
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Japan
Kosovo
Latvia
Lebanon
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Montenegro
New Zealand
North Macedonia
Norway
Portugal
Republic of Korea
Serbia
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
the Netherlands
the United Kingdom
the United States
Ukraine
Uruguay

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