04 May Grassroots Radio celebrates the World Press Freedom Day 2020
The Grassroots Radio project is proud to celebrate the World Press Freedom Day, whose overarching theme this year is Journalism without Fear or Favour.
The World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993 following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. On the occasion of this year’s anniversary, UNESCO claims that 3 May acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom.
With its goals of piloting actions for community information platforms to improve the degree of media pluralism and inclusiveness, the Grassroots Radio project is fully committed to pursuing the values reclaimed by the World Press Freedom Day and to tackling the challenges it evokes: celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; assess the state of press freedom throughout the world; defend the media from attacks on their independence; and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
With COVID-19, media freedom faces new challenges, among which the risk of mis/disinformation, fake news and the increasing dangers which vulnerable citizens – elderly, women, children, people of color – are subject to. In this respect, the community radios involved in the Grassroots Radio project are unfolding multiple initiatives to: denounce those measures that are affecting freedom of expression, ensuring spiritual lift and the maintenance of educational activities, advocate media freedom and pluralism by addressing institutional actors.
According to Grassroots Radio public engagement and dissemination coordinator, Francesco Diasio, the overload of information, with the related risk of diffusion of fake news, proves radio to be a powerful medium in many contexts. Moreover, local radios like those designed in the scope of Grassroots Radio are making the important effort to check the reliability of global news and share responsible information with local populations. The work that radio practitioners are making, in collaboration with project partners and local institutional actors, is priceless, and I am glad the Grassroots Radio project is contributing to the development of such a collaborative infrastructure.
The commitment to fostering civic engagement and media pluralism becomes even more challenging nowadays, when radio has to navigate a complex sociotechnical environment characterized by a progressive transition to digital broadcast, the proliferation of technical standards, and the constraints posed by national regulations. Moreover, if the increasing pervasiveness of commercial digital platforms have facilitated the emergence of radio stations, on the other hand the controversial mechanisms of commodification and datification regulating digital platforms can represent a threat to the promotion of democratic governance and public values.
The World Press Freedom Day 2020 comes with a set of events sponsored by UNESCO. The full list is available at this link or on the UNESCO website en.unesco.org.