Editorial Comment – World Press Freedom Day

World Press Freedom Day, May 3. Picture: UNESCO

TODAY is a very special day for journalists. Today is World Press Freedom Day.
For whatever it is worth, we hope today will offer an opportunity to appreciate the work of journalists and to acknowledge people in the news and those who
read, listen to, view, and surf the internet in search of information.

Journalists are sometimes misunderstood in Fiji. Let’s face it, journalists also have families. You’ve got to remember they have feelings, bias, aspirations and they appreciate many things. They also have dreams.

Journalists have loved ones who look up to them for advice, support and reassurance.
Many journalists have families of their own, children to support, nurture and watch over.

This is not a job for the faint hearted though. Faced with many obstacles, passion for the job keeps many in this career.

Some have been ridiculed, snubbed, and publicly humiliated, sometimes by State officials.

Some have left the profession for various reasons.

But there have also been many instances when journalists have been acknowledged and appreciated.

This can be thankless work. There are, however, many instances when there is personal satisfaction because a story contributed positively to the development of a family, a community, village, town, city or the country.

For every journalist on the frontline, there are just as many in the background, from the editors of various departments, sub-editors in a newspaper, to the people behind the scenes working to get a radio or television program or web update ready for the masses.

There are the people in administration, finance, transport, advertising and marketing, and newspaper sellers, who all play an important role in the dissemination of information for the masses.

As we continue our countdown to our general elections this year, the role of the media is critical to ensure people are in a position to make well-informed decisions.

In his message for today, United Nations secretarygeneral Antonio Guterres said a free press was essential for peace, justice and human rights for all.

It was crucial to building transparent and democratic societies and keeping those in power accountable. He said it was vital for sustainable development.

Journalists and media workers, he said, shine a light on local and global challenges and told the stories that needed to be told. Their service to the public was invaluable.

He said laws that protected independent journalism, freedom of expression and the right to information needed to be adopted, implemented and enforced. Crimes against journalists must be prosecuted.

“On World Press Freedom Day 2018, I call on governments to strengthen press freedom, and to protect journalists. Promoting a free press is standing up for our right to truth,” he said.

We must remember though, with the power, and the platform to inform people, comes a great sense of responsibility.

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