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Journalism Without Fear or Favor: May 3 Is World Press Freedom Day

Credit: Al Saadi / UNESCO/ Cartooning for Peace

This Sunday, May 3, is World Press Freedom Day, an initiative to stand up for journalists around the world, particularly those who are facing repression.

UNESCO — the United Nations organization for education, science and culture, which is organizing a series of events to mark the day — says the event serves to remind governments of the need to respect press freedom, for the public to show their support for media that are targets of repression, and as a day to remember “those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.”

In the run-up to the day, Colombian investigative journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima was awarded the 2020 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize for a career spent investigating the armed conflict and peace process in Colombia and sexual violence against women.

Bedoya Lima was herself kidnapped and raped in 2000 while investigating arms trafficking for El Espectador newspaper. Three years later while working for another national newspaper, El Tiempo, she was kidnapped by militants of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The jurors for the prize said Bedoya Lima had shown “outstanding courage and untiring commitment to uncovering issues of fundamental importance to society.”

“To talk about Jineth Bedoya is to talk about the fight against impunity, which affects the freedom of the press,” said Andres Mompotes, the deputy editor of El Tiempo.

Speaking about World Press Freedom Day, Audrey Azoulay, the UNESCO Director-General, said: “The present pandemic highlights the vital role journalists play in providing all of us with access to reliable, in some cases vital, information in crisis situations. It also shows the many risks journalists face everywhere in the world in the exercise of their profession.”

Other events taking place to mark World Press Freedom Day include a flagship Facebook Live event on Monday May 4 with the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, and journalist Younes Mujahid, who is president of the International Federation of Journalists.

On May 5, UNESCO will host an online discussion about press freedom in the time of COVID-19. Online, readers can see and share a range of cartoons and graphics produced by visual artists to celebrate press freedom.

For most of May, UNESCO, the World Health Organization, and the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas will be running a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), a four-week training program in multiple languages aimed at helping journalists cover COVID-19 and the “social, financial and political consequences it entails.”

Find more here on UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day page.

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