World Press Freedom Day: Can We Set Ethical Standards For Press Freedom
World Press Freedom Day: Can We Set Ethical Standards For Press Freedom: World press freedom day is celebrated on the 3rd of May around the world. Generally freedom of press is defined as the right to circulate opinions in print without censorship by the government.
This day was officially declared by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. Since then, 3rd May, is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day under 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and marking the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991.
This year theme on the world press freedom day by UN is “Keeping power in check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law”.
What Does Freedom of Press Means?
Generally it means a body of editors, news media, etc., not controlled or restricted by government censorship in political or ideological matters that marks the very origin and essence of free press.
Free speech and a free press together allow people to obtain information from a wide range of sources that are not dictated or restricted by the government, so that they can make decisions, develop opinions, and communicate their views to the government (by voting, assembling, protesting, sharing ideas, etc.).
What Is The importance Of This Day?
The importance of this day is to raise awareness for the freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to the freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is important because it enables the public to participate in making decisions based on the free flow of information and ideas. Without it, people would be unable to make informed decisions.
This day allows to
- celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom,
- assess the state of press freedom throughout the world,
- defend the media from attacks on their independence,
- pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
On World Press Freedom across the world and in Pakistan rallies and seminars are conducted to highlight the importance of freedom of press. Journalists who lay down their lives in the course of their duty are given tribute on this day.
The contribution of journalists and media workers is most associated with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 of peace, justice and strong institutions. In order to reach this goal, effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels must be developed, and press freedom is essential for this.
Situation Of Press In Pakistan
Pakistan enjoy freedom of the press under the Article 19 of the Constitution that states Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defense of Pakistan or any part thereof friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, [commission of] or incitement to an offence.
Pakistan’s 2002 policy of liberalization led to the rapid growth of private electronic media, both TV and FM radio. Further expansion has also come through cross-media ownership with almost all media houses with print media having established or planning to launch their own TV channels. Today, Pakistan has over 50 privately-owned TV channels, 170 FM radio channels and more than 250 news publications, including both newspapers and periodicals. In addition, almost 80 million Pakistanis use the internet and equal number use mobile phones.
Pakistan’s press reflects language diversity. Newspapers that publish in Urdu, the national language of Pakistan, have a broader reach than the English-language papers. According to London’s Financial Times, the combined circulation of Pakistan’s entire English-language press is no more than 150,000 in a population one hundred times that size.
Still, Pakistan is rated “Not Free” in the Freedom of the Press Index 2018, and is ranked 139th out of 180 countries and territories worldwide. According to the Report, journalists in Pakistan experience official attempts to restrict critical reporting, as well as high levels of violence from both State and non-State actors.
The Press Freedom Index is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by “Reporters Without Borders” (RWB) based upon the organization’s own assessment of the country’s press freedom records in the previous year.
In Pakistan the press has found itself under economic pressure, threats, violence from multiple sides, while they (the press bodies like APNS, CPNE, PBA, PFUJ and APNEC) have lack of unity with in themselves as well. That result in banning of a newspaper, channel or in the arrest of a journalist.
Pakistan has also started to crack down on digital newsrooms. The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, for example, is used more against rebels than elements deemed involved in cyber-crimes. While the existing laws about the press have failed to protect journalists or fight impunity, and special laws are now needed to protect reporters and editors, both at the federal and provincial levels.
In the current scenario which may be not true, these days most of the newspapers are there to uphold businesses or to gain a regular amount from government in the form of advertisements. Now newspapers are used as a source of deterrence rather than as a change agent. Today Fake news, manipulated news, propaganda news, planted news, agenda settings news has undermined and degraded the meaning of freedom of press.
The media actually sets the agenda which gradually becomes the agenda of the society. Freedom of press does not in any way mean to suppress and stalk any one. With the mushroom growth of print and electronic media it should be the mean of keeping the public informed about the current situations in a responsible way and to educate people about the right and wrong information. Today we need to set ethical standards for freedom of press that has core values. It is required that the press today should be ethical, honest, not coming under any influence and pressure, not taking any favors from the government, no biasness and no blackmailing as their core principles.
Doing reporting and providing information is the duty of press but yes providing security to the press people and respecting their view point is the responsibility of the government and security agencies.
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