The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
May 3 every year is recognised by the United Nations General Assembly as World Press Freedom Day. But why should we value press freedom? Nobel Prize laureate Amartya Sen tells us that freedom of the press can’t be distinguished from free speech. He says
Press freedom is important for several different reasons, and it is useful to separate out the distinct contributions it can make. The first – and perhaps the most elementary – connection concerns the direct contribution of free speech in general and of press freedom in particular to the quality of our lives. We have reason enough to want to communicate with each other and to understand better the world in which we live. Press freedom is critically important for our capability to do this.
The absence of a free press and the suppression of people’s ability to communicate with each other have the effect of directly reducing the quality of human life, even if the authoritarian country that imposes such suppression happens to be very rich in terms of gross national product (GNP).
It is perhaps no exaggeration to say with a free press comes free people, and our Governments should not be considered to be opposite to a free press. UNESCO agrees, saying “A society that is guaranteed access to public documents and public decision-making processes is able to bring conflicts of interest to light and empower citizens with information about development processes.”
Amartya Sen continues that press freedom in addition to “the direct contribution to the quality of human life” also has “an important protective function,” in that it gives a voice to the neglected and the disadvantaged. Lastly, Sen says, “the press has a major informational role in disseminating knowledge and allowing critical scrutiny.”
The Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index ranks the performance of 180 countries according to a range of criteria that include media independence, along with respect for the safety and freedom of journalists and many others. The 2015 report, published on 12 February this year, shows what RSF calls a “worldwide deterioration.” The indicator measures the overall level of violations of freedom of information in 180 countries and has risen 8 percents since 2014 and almost 10 percent compared with 2013. This decline was seen in every continent around the world.
Crazy Domains recognises not just May 3, but all of May as World Press Freedom Month to applaud the efforts of journalists and to further promote an independent free press worldwide. During this month we will offer .PRESS Domains at just $18.49 to help journalists all over the world to build stronger online identities. Make your profession part of your identity and find your ideal .PRESS domain here.