International Observance: Protect The Right To Know

MONDAY, MAY 3: Traditional media outlets may be dwindling quickly in the 21st century, but today people around the world celebrate press freedom and remember the many journalists who have lost their lives in the name of freedom of the press. Journalists are among the heroes around the world who dare to expose corrupt governments and break news about deep-seeded crimes and injustice. World Press Freedom Day recalls that, without the investigative work of some courageous, determined reporters, we would still be unaware of some of the world’s most pressing issues. (Read inteviews, editorials and more from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.)

This year, an international conference—held in Australia—will focus on the theme, “Freedom of Information: The Right to Know.” Each year, journalists hear from colleagues who have faced dire consequences for their work, share safety tips with each other and learn about organizations such as Maison des Journalistes, a group that shelters journalists who have been forced to flee their country because of threats to their lives. (Check out the fascinating story of the Chilean journalist who was awarded the 2010 World Press Freedom Prize.) Today, UNESCO—the only UN agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom—organizes the day’s events to promote awareness, honor press freedom and remember those who have died. Even students are encouraged to get involved by publishing press freedom materials in their school newspapers! The World School Paper Prize for Press Freedom is awarded to the best entry each year.

According to The Committee to Protect Journalists, 580 journalists have lost their lives in the name of journalism between January 1992 and August 2006. (Check out a statement about the UN resolution on free expression and religion here.) How can you make a difference? If you’re in favor of press freedom—and would like to help protect journalists on the job—one thing you can do, today, is contact your local UNESCO office (click here for a list of offices) and express your concern about this issue. Also, to keep a healthy crew of journalists out in the field, subscribe to a newspaper or news magazine today.

(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)

(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)

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