As people across the globe commemorate World Press Freedom Day, it is important that we highlight the significance of this celebration.
The World Press Freedom Day is an annual celebration held on May 3, with this year’s occasion themed ‘Information as a public good’.
History of World Press Freedom Day
The World Press Freedom Day was first declared in 1993 by the United Nations following the 26th General Conference session of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The conference convened in Windhoek, Namibia was themed ‘Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Media’.
Commemorating this event is a reminder to governments across the world on the importance of journalists in individual countries and territories in the dissemination of information to the public.
Significance of the Celebration
Globally, journalists are often objects of attack due to the role they play in spotlighting fact-based stories exposing a rot in a system.
According to Article 19, there were 51 incidents of attacks on journalists in 2020 alone, while in the prior year, 19 journalists were attacked by government officials in Nigeria.
The article showed that three journalists were killed in 2020: two by unidentified individuals and one by security forces in Nigeria’s capital Abuja.
While in other parts of the country, 31 journalists faced various forms of attacks.
Government officials remain the strongest opposition to journalism in Nigeria, leaving journalists exposed to assaults without proper protection.
Out of 180 countries and territories, Nigeria ranks 115 on the World Press Freedom Index.
The report compiled by Reporters without Borders stated, “Nigeria is now one of West Africa’s most dangerous and difficult countries for journalists, who are often spied on, attacked, arbitrarily arrested or even killed.”
It added that “the defence of quality journalism and the protection of journalists are very far from being government priorities.”
Reports such as those mentioned above prove that World Press Freedom Day continues to remain significant, as journalists need to thrive in less hostile environments to conduct their journalistic businesses in a fair manner.