Five Theses on World Press Freedom Day


The United Nations has designated May 3 as World Press Freedom Day. It provides a moment for reminding us about the limitations of that freedom around the world, says Prof. Dr. Steffen Burkhardt, director of the International Media Center (IMC). Please read his five theses on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day 2015.

1. World Press Freedom Day is not only about the freedom of the press – it’s about the freedom of the citizens.

There is no civil society without the freedom of the press. A society without free press is a society without freedom of opinion and without freedom of expression.  Therefore it is a duty of all citizens to defend journalists fighting for the freedom of opinion and expression – because it is the freedom of all citizens they are fighting for.

2. On World Press Freedom Day there are many ways citizens can fight for world press freedom.

Not everybody is strong enough to fight in the first row for world press freedom. But there are many international and local organizations supporting those who stand there as journalists for other citizens. On World Press Freedom Day we should make donations to support journalists in danger. According to the World Press Freedom Barometer, there are 158 journalists imprisoned. Others are missed. Let us help them to go back to their families and to continue their work. Support human rights and press freedom organizations by donating time and money.

3. World Press Freedom Day reminds us that a world without press freedom would be a world without justice.

Imagine a world without the free press: The citizens wouldn’t hear about social relevant problems such as dangerous industrial products or the misuse of power by government, justice or police. It is the press that keeps us informed. The journalists who risk their lives grant access to relevant information for us – to make the world a more lawful place.

4. World Press Freedom Day is the right time to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

In 2015, already 24 journalists have been killed, according to the Press Freedom Barometer. These homicides include only cases in which the victim was killed because of his or her activities as a journalist. It does not include cases in which the motives were not related to the victim’s work or in which a link has not yet been confirmed. Take a moment and honor these 24 journalists and the many others who can’t any longer celebrate the World Press Freedom Days with their beloved ones.

5. On World Press Freedom Day every citizen is asked to stop behavior weakening the press.

In most of the cases the enemies of the freedom of the press are not cruel warlords, corrupt statesmen or other criminals. In most of the cases they are ordinary people. People, who are not appreciating the freedom of the press anymore, neither willing to pay for the news nor supporting journalists in danger, because they don’t see the value of the press. Perhaps they have never recognized the journalistic work. But maybe they once did and have lost trust and respect. It’s up to the journalists to restore this acknowledgement. Thus, journalists, don’t waste your time working on trivia! Please focus on producing reports which are worth celebrating World Press Freedom Day!

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