A Free Press Is ‘Cornerstone’ For Accountability And ‘Speaking Truth To Power’: UN
At a time when disinformation and mistrust of the news media is growing, a free press is “essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights”, said the UN Secretary-General, in his message for World Press Freedom Day, marked on Friday.
No democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information, said António Guterres, describing unfettered journalism as “the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power.”
This years commemorations which began on Thursday across the world, are focussing on the powerful role that good reporting plays in championing democracy and free elections, when disinformation is becoming a larger problem in even the world’s oldest and most sophisticated democratic systems.
“Facts, not falsehoods, should guide people as they choose their representatives”, said the UN chief, noting that “while technology has transformed the ways in which we receive and share information, sometimes it is used to mislead public opinion or to fuel violence and hatred.”
According to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), almost 100 journalists were killed going about their work in 2018, with hundreds imprisoned. A total of 1,307 journalists were killed between 1994, and last year.
Mr. Guterres said he was “deeply troubled by the growing number of attacks and the culture of impunity…When media workers are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price.”