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Global press freedom restricted over past year

As World Press Freedom Day is celebrated on 3 May, the situation for journalists continues to worsen, with greater restrictions, censorship and abuse. Pope Francis marked the occasion with a tweet urging reporters to "build and strengthen the common good."

By Vatican News staff reporter

Day and night, and for 365 days a year, journalists around the world bring us information via radio, television, internet and newspapers. Over the past year, many have been on the frontlines in hospitals reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic, while others have been recounting stories from countries of conflict.

The day and its theme

Every year on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day is observed. According to the UN agency UNESCO, the day serves “as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.”

In addition, it offers an opportunity to defend media against attacks and remember those who lost their lives covering stories.

The theme for this year’s World Press Freedom Day is “Information as a public good”, which, UNESCO states, acts as a call “to cherish information as a public good along with exploring ways to distribute it and strengthen journalism."

Press freedom around the world

According to media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, there was a global decline in press freedom brought about by draconian laws introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report found that nearly 75% blocked the media in some shape or form during the outbreak.

The findings also found that the African continent continues to be the most dangerous place for journalists, while eastern European countries such as Russia and Belarus scored badly on the Press Freedom Index.

Marking World Press Freedom Day, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres said the situation for journalists continues to worsen.

“In too many countries, they run great personal risks, including new restrictions, censorship, abuse, harassment, detention and even death,” he said.

Pope Francis

In a tweet on Monday, Pope Francis urged the media to help in efforts to strengthen the common good.

"Let us use everything we can, especially the powerful instrument of the media, to build and strengthen the common good," he said.

In 2019, he also called for a free and unhindered journalism in the service of truth, goodness and justice.

30-year history

This year, World Press Freedom Day is marking its 30th anniversary. It originated three decades ago at a UNESCO conference in Windhoek, in Namibia in 1991.

The event concluded on 3 May with the adoption of the landmark Windhoek Declaration for the Development of a Free, Independent and Pluralistic Press.

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03 May 2021, 14:34