The World Press Freedom Day is observed every 3rd of May since 1993. This year’s theme for the Day is “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights”. Numbers released prior to this 30th anniversary show 548 journalists and 22 media workers are currently in prison. Six journalists and one media worker have been killed since January 1 this year, Reporters without Borders report.
The organisation’s latest World Press Freedom Index, which assesses the state of journalism in 180 countries and territories, highlights the “disastrous effects of news and information chaos – the effects of a globalised and unregulated online information space that encourages fake news and propaganda.”
“Within democratic societies, divisions are growing as a result of the spread of opinion media following the “Fox News model” and the spread of disinformation circuits that are amplified by the way social media functions. At the international level, democracies are being weakened by the asymmetry between open societies and despotic regimes that control their media and online platforms while waging propaganda wars against democracies. Polarisation on these two levels is fuelling increased tension”. RSF says.
Global press organisation WAN-IFRA’s latest World Press Trends Outlook report at least 66 journalists were killed in 2022, at least 40 of them for reasons directly linked to their work.
“Physical intimidation remains an effective means to silence the press, particularly in countries where public institutions are weak or under threat and the rule of law is challenged.”
The organisation says globally, the rate of physical attacks and murders has risen compared to 2021 with the conflict in Ukraine contributing additional casualties – due, in part, to the heightened risks and dangers of war reporting, but also the deliberate targeting of journalists by invading Russian forces.
US-based Committee to Protect Journalists says the European Union traditionally has been considered among the world’s safest and freest places for journalists.
“However, reporters working in its 27 member states are under increasing pressure, with several killed because of their work. Others have been censored, spied upon, harassed online, overwhelmed with disinformation, subjected to vexatious lawsuits, charged with revealing state secrets, beaten while covering street protests, banned from public meetings, or publicly criticized by politicians.”
“The EU’s next parliamentary election will take place in 2024. Much has changed in the media landscape since EU citizens last went to the polls. Brussels, the shorthand reference for major EU institutions like the European Commission, the Council, the European Parliament, and the Court of Justice, has increasingly recognized that while journalists played a key role in defending EU interests and values, the EU was not doing enough to protect them – and that this needed to change”, a CPJ report says.
“Some governments used the COVID-19 pandemic to control the media, including restricting access to journalists and withholding public-interest information. Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has tested the EU’s ability to protect journalist safety.”