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Press freedom day

Fred Wesley
Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Yesterday was a special day in many ways for journalists around the world. It was a day set aside to celebrate press freedom.

As part of its message yesterday, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said World Press Freedom Day represents an opportunity to advance the fundamental principles of press freedom and to pay solemn tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

This year, it said, World Press Freedom Day coincided with three important milestones:

* The 250th anniversary of the world's first freedom of information law, covering both modern-day Sweden and Finland;

* The 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Windhoek Declaration of press freedom principles; and

* The year 2016 is also the first year of the 15-year life-cycle of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Against this background, the day, it said, highlights the links between press freedom, a culture of openness and the right to freedom of information, and sustainable development in the digital age. The common thread in all these is the role of journalism, and the importance of safeguarding those who bring this service to the public.

Press freedom, it said, and access to information are essential to democracy and to sustainable development. Journalism helps make this so. Journalism, it said, demonstrates freedom of expression for society at large. It puts new questions on the development agenda, and it empowers citizens with information. It provides a context in which the diversity of cultural expressions can flourish. For all these reasons, strengthening the conditions for journalism is key to developing a culture of openness, access to information and fundamental freedoms.

To this end, World Press Freedom Day 2016, it said, hoped to advance the right to information, press freedom, and the environment for journalism to be done in safety. It resonates with contemporary global issues and opportunities. In this way, around the world, it should be possible for stakeholders to continue to take the day to an ever higher level of visibility, relevance, and impact.

Understandably different people will have different opinions about what constitutes good news. There will be different opinions on what good journalism is all about and there will be different opinions on how much value should be placed on ensuring the media landscape in Fiji is free, independent and robust. But that is the beauty of freedom of expression.

In the face of that we will endeavour to do our best when it comes to disseminating news that allows people to make well informed decisions on a daily basis.

Irrespective of imaginary demarcation lines, be they religious, gender-based or along ethnic lines, we hope to continue providing a platform for people to voice their opinions and raise issues of importance in their communities, in society, and the nation. Together, forward.

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