Freedom of press means the right to report news and circulate opinion through mass media without the state interference. Journalism is responsible for providing society access to information, making it possible for people to get informed and be able to form opinions. Therefore, it is one of the bases of democracy. Due to its importance, governments tend to attack and repress journalists. But it doesn’t matter how hard it is, they will honor their profession and will fight however is possible.
The importance of freedom of press
May 3rd is known as World Press Freedom Day, proclaimed back in 1993 with the intention to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, defend media from attack on their independence and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
In 2019, António Guterres, the ninth secretary of the United Nations made a speech about its importance. On the occasion, he stated: “The freedom of press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and for human rights,” said Guetteres. He also appealed to defend the journalists whose efforts help us build a better world for all.
Attacked while working
According to UNESCO, between 2006 and 2020, more than 1.200 journalists lost their lives while working. And it does not stop there: they receive other threats such as kidnapping, torture and harassment in physical and digital forms.
Fabiana Cambricoli, a journalist who works for Folha de São Paulo, was a victim of virtual aggression. In her routine, “threats and sexist harassments were constant”, said the journalist. She also added: “If the critics were about the news, fine, but they were mainly personal offences and hate speech.” That didn’t stop her from working, but she tells that she is always tense, like there is a knife on her neck.
In Brazil, the current context is not favorable for journalists. The Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, makes constant attacks on the press. According to the Brazilian association of radio and television broadcasts (ABERT), in 2021 at least 230 professionals and communication vehicles suffered some sort of attack, and 4.000 attacks virtually. During an event in Guaratinguetá (SP), Bolsonaro replied in a rude way to a journalist from Globo: ‘You are scoundrel journalism, which doesn’t help at all, you destroy the Brazilian family, religion, you are no good.’
Does not matter how hard it is, we must fight
Bringing out the truth is not always easy, but is necessary. As we all know, for example, Russia has been attacking Ukraine for a while now and Russian people are not well informed of what is happening, and it is not their fault.
Now it is a crime in Russia punishable by 15 years in prison to spread “false information”. But the problem lies in the fact that the “false information” in the country is interpreted as the one who tells the truth about the war, and the government does not want people to know. “Every journalist in Russia who is trying to tell the truth about what’s happening could be put in jail,” said Katya Arenina, a reporter at Agentstvo, an independent Russian media outlet specialising in investigative journalism.. Journalists who tried telling the truth, fled the country with the fear of getting arrested.
Journalists keep fighting for the freedom of press, because it is necessary and the only way to expose the truth and bring information of quality to people, and we must recognize it. The Nobel Peace Prize of 2021 went to two journalists – Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov – because of their courageous struggle of professionals in their countries. “Free, independent and fact based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and wartime propaganda” said the institution.
The article above was edited by Isadora Noronha.
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