Amendment One: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Building Awareness Press Freedom Day, Alamogordo, May 3, 2021
Press Freedom is a fundamental requirement for a free and informed Democracy. We don’t always agree with opinions expressed, we may not like much of the news we hear and we may feel all news is negative. It doesn’t have to be. A record amount of censorship, unprecedented attacks on journalists, a consolidation of news outlets by big corporations and the collapse of small town local newspapers and online papers all threaten the freedoms and foundation of our fragile democracy.
Even here in Alamogordo the primary newspaper is owned by a media conglomerate resulting in diminished local coverage and opinions expressed directed from far off corporate offices. Local free citizen journalism is more important now than at any time in our county’s history with a focus on local sports, business successes and positivity. That is where we fill a void. We are here to inform, inspire and encourage. We ask for you to support our advertisers, share our pages and daily posts, sign up for our free daily newsletter and share our vision of positive news and affirmations to a more positive community.
Journalists uncover the truth, check the abuse of power, and demand transparency from those in power. They are indispensable to the functioning of democracy. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, journalists and media workers have been on the front lines to keep the public informed, at significant risk to their own health. And, at a time when the truth is increasingly under attack, our need for accurate, fact-based reporting, open public conversation, and accountability has never been greater.
We collaborate and honor World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.
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. Special commemorations of the 30th anniversary are planned to take place during World Press Freedom Day International Conference.
May 3 acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. It is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. 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.
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. It recognizes the changing communications system that is impacting on our health, our human rights, democracies and sustainable development.
While governments harass, detain and silence journalists there are organizations around that work to protect your freedom of information around the world in order to keep you as citizens of the world informed.
American reporters are at risk at times at home but more so when reporting overseas. As an example Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian was arrested in Iran last July with his wife, who also is a journalist. She was later released, but he is on trial on charges that include spying, which he has denied. His trial is closed to the public.
The One Free Press Coalition acts as a voice for all journalists under attack for pursuing the truth. Media outlets worldwide, including Voice of America, unite to give voice to their stories and hold power figures to account.
The One Free Press Coalition publishes a monthly list of the world’s “10 Most Urgent” press freedom abuses, and the cases of journalists who cover human rights topics. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) determined that 55% of journalists imprisoned in 2020 write about human rights, and 306 journalists reporting on human rights have been killed since 1992.
CPJ and the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) maintain safety resources and provide support to ensure these professionals can carry out their work for the public good, and do so as safely as possible.
The 10 Most Urgent, May 2021 At Risk Journalist in the World Include:
1. Ibraimo Abú Mbaruco (Mozambique)
Mozambican radio reporter and human rights advocate in Cabo Delgado has been missing for over a year as conflict in the region escalates. Family and colleagues still have no information on his whereabouts after he sent an SOS text saying he was “surrounded by soldiers.”
2. Kasra Nouri (Iran)
Journalist, serving a 12-year sentence related to his coverage of religious protests in 2018, has spent a significant amount of time in solitary confinement, been moved multiple times, and his family is currently unable to communicate with him.
3. Pham Chi Dung (Vietnam)
Freelance internet reporter and founding chairman of a civil society organization advocating for press freedom is serving a 15-year prison sentence on anti-state charges after calling on the EU to postpone trade agreements until Vietnam improves its human rights record.
4. Ahmed Humaidan (Bahrain)
Photographer covering protests in Bahrain was arrested while documenting protesters attacking a police station in 2012, and sentenced to ten years behind bars in 2014. He recently contracted and recovered from COVID-19 while imprisoned.
5. Esraa Abdelfattah (Egypt)
Longtime blogger, journalist and activist reporting on human rights has been held on false news and anti-state charges since 2019, and has had her pretrial detention extended. She has gone on hunger strikes multiple times to protest her sentence and treatment.
Leonardo Sakamoto is the president of Repórter Brasil, an investigative reporting organization, focused on issues from human trafficking to workers’ rights to environmental degradation. The outlet has faced online attacks, attempted break-ins and anonymous threats.
7. Sandhya Ravishankar (India)
Freelance journalist reporting on elections, politics and corruption, including on Tamil Nadu’s sand mafia and beach sand mining, has faced years of threats and harassment, including death and rape threats, doxing, and a 2018 attempt to sabotage her motorbike.
8. Agnieszka Pikulicka (Uzbekistan)
Freelance correspondent threatened publicly by Uzbek Interior Ministry with potential lawsuits in relation to her reporting on the attack of an LGBTQ activist.
9. Katsiaryna Barysevich (Belarus)
Correspondent for the independent news website Tut.by was sentenced earlier this year to six months behind bars for her coverage of protests in Belarus in 2020.
10. Daria Komarova (Russia)
Russian journalist for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has been put on three trials in relation to her coverage of pro-Navalny protests, facing potential fines and administrative detention.
Today, on World Press Freedom Day, we, as independent community journalist, authors and publishers with 2nd Life Media and Alamogordo Town News celebrate the awesome bravery of journalists everywhere; locally, within the US and worldwide that standup to popular opinions, the power structure and an informed public. We recognize the integral role a free press plays in building prosperous, resilient and free societies. We recommit daily to protecting and promoting free, independent, and diverse media around the world and always when possible inform, inspire, educate and promote the positivity life has to offer.
Today we celebrate a free press and a free Alamogordo that in unity with all celebrates freedom!
Commentary by Chris Edwards, Author Alamogordo Town New, 2nd Life Media.
Sources: One Free Press Coalition, Forbes, Wikipedia and United Nation Press Freedom Information Pages