Today is World Press Freedom Day. It is dedicated every year to the celebration of the fundamental principles of press freedom, evaluation of the status of press freedom around the world, defence of the media against attacks to their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
The theme for the celebration this year is Journalism without fear or favour.
Quite apt in the midst of a deadly global coronavirus pandemic characterised by a tsunami of equally damaging flow of disinformation and fake news.
For some time, the journalism profession has been struggling under the strain of the advancement in digital technology and applications.
Add this to the perennial adversarial relation between governments and the media, and you can imagine the tough task journalists are called upon to perform, with the attendant risks to their personal lives and their families. They are hazards of the profession, some may say, but that does not make them less devastating.
To remain effective and relevant, the journalist must be professional and also requires the cooperation and understanding of other development stakeholders, to be able to hold governments and public office holders accountable on behalf of the citizens.
And by the way, press freedom is not just for the benefit of journalists, but all members of society – ordinary citizens, civil society, government and non-government actors, public and private sectors, etc. The denial of freedom to one, is enslavement of all.
Press freedom is in fact the barometer for measuring the observance of fundamental human rights, especially in a democratic society.
So, it is in the interest of all that the journalists functioning within their professional ethics of their profession are allowed to perform their watch-dog role unfettered, in a society governed by law and order and respect for human rights.
Happy Press Freedom Day everyone.
**Paul Ejime, a veteran journalist, is also an international Communications consultant.