World Press Freedom Day
Every year, May 3 is when the world celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom. It’s a day 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. At the core of the date is a reminder that it can be suicide to become a journalist. Publications and the people who work with them are harassed, attacked, murdered. Publications are censored, fined, and closed down.
It is an opportunity to:
- celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;
- assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;
- defend the media from attacks on their independence;
- and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
In the United States, over the last 15 years, the number of reporters, editors, photographers, and other U.S. newsroom employees fell by 45 percent. It’s expected that more newsrooms will follow suit as news business models continue to be in flux. There are now some 1,500 “ghost papers,” where skeleton staffs are offering little to no local news coverage. And, in some places, access to news has dried up entirely: More than 1,400 communities across the country lost a newspaper over this period.
World Press Freedom Committee was established in 1976 by a batch of independent journalists to promote and defend press freedom and cover 44 media organizations from around the world. In 1993, the UN General Assembly officially proclaimed World Press Freedom Day following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991.