“Free and quality journalism is an asset of democracy. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of the essential role that journalists and media professionals play by providing reliable information, countering disinformation that may cause panic and keeping decision-makers accountable to the public”, said today Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, ahead of World Press Freedom Day.
“This year’s celebrations of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May will be different in form but not in substance. We must take this occasion to pause and express gratitude to journalists and media professionals for their invaluable work for the public good. We must acknowledge their sacrifices, and those of their families, to serve our interests. Because this is what journalists do, in normal times, and even more so in times of crisis like the current one. They provide us with one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal to take decisions relevant to our lives: reliable information.
Whether prominent investigative reporters covering global crises or precarious freelancers working for a local paper – their work concerns us all. They expose injustices, crime, corruption or misuse of power. They keep government action under the public spotlight. They dig beyond the surface to unearth the truth. They can also bring to our attention hopeful stories that can inspire change in other parts of the world.
This is why press freedom is one of the rights enshrined in national constitutions and international treaties. This is why we must be more invested in the safety, the independence and the economic and social security of journalists and media professionals. The safety of journalists must be ensured at all times, not just for the sake of justice, but also for the sake of democracy.
The news world has weathered many challenges in the past decade. Some of these challenges have threatened the very existence of several news outlets and reduced media pluralism. Yet, the relevance of journalism for our lives has not changed. It was, remains and will continue to be vital.
As 3 May approaches, I want to pay a tribute to all journalists and media professionals who work in defence of truth and justice. Too many of them have paid with their lives or sacrificed their freedoms to allow us to take informed decisions and make our societies more just.”