World Press Freedom Day 2021: Information as a Public Good
Cambodia joins media professionals and governments around the world in commemorating the World Press Freedom Day, which takes place annually on the 3rd of May. World Press Freedom Day is an important occasion to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists for their efforts and struggle in the exercise of their profession
This year’s World Press Freedom Day theme “Information as a Public Good” serves as a call to affirm the importance of cherishing information as a public good, and exploring what can be done in the production, distribution and reception of content to strengthen journalism, and to advance transparency and empowerment while leaving no one behind. The theme is of urgent relevance to all countries across the world including Cambodia. It recognizes the changing communications system that is impacting on our health, our human rights, democracies and sustainable development.
During the complete month of May in Cambodia, UNESCO and its partners over social media will organize a series of events to recognize the vital role that journalists play in our society and to generate discussions on the importance of free and independent media in providing the public with reliable, timely and trustworthy information.
UNESCO Director General, Audrey Azulay in her message stated that “The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, Information as a Public Good, underlines the indisputable importance of verified and reliable information. It calls attention to the essential role of free and professional journalists in producing and disseminating this information, by tackling misinformation and other harmful content”.
This year’s World Press Freedom Day, marks the 30th Anniversary of the UNESCO Windhoek Declaration for the Development of a Free, Independent and Pluralistic Press. That declaration led to the recognition by the UN of the World Press Freedom Day to be celebrated every 3rd of May. After 30 years, the historic connection made between the freedom to seek, impart and receive information and the public good remains as relevant as it was at the time of its signing. The importance of freely accessing reliable information, particularly through journalism, has been demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic: in times of crisis such as this, information can be a matter of life or death. The COVID-19 crisis has placed journalists and quality journalism and public interest media once again at the center of the global discourse. Reporting on the crisis, through initiatives such as the popularization of scientific facts, the compilation and frequent updating of data, fact-checking or monitoring spending, has proved vital. Around the world the covid-19 pandemic has forced the closure of media houses around the world, reporters have been harassed and attacked for their reporting on the handling of the pandemic, and the public has struggled to discern verified information from the falsehoods that have flooded the internet.
UNESCO calls on all partners, to renew their commitment to the fundamental right to freedom of expression, to defend media workers, and to ensure that information remains a public good.