The day was established back in 1993, when the UN General Assembly proclaimed 3 May as World Press Freedom Day, following recommendations from the UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991 and the Windhoek Declaration. The Windhoek Declaration for the Development of a Free, Independent and Pluralistic Press is a statement of press freedom principles made by African newspaper journalists in 1991. The Declaration was produced at the UNESCO seminar "Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press" held in Windhoek in 1991.
World Press Freedom Day offers the opportunity for a reflection among media professionals and governments about issues related to press freedom, as well as to provide support for those subjects who are targets of the restriction or abolition of press freedom.
Journalism under digital siege
The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day is ‘Journalism under digital siege’, which shows, according to the UN, the diverse ways in which journalism is “endangered by surveillance and digitally-mediated attacks on journalists, and the consequences of all this on public trust in digital communications”. A recent UNESCO discussion paper called Threats that Silence: Trends in the Safety of Journalists also demonstrated the need for World Press Freedom Day as UNESCO recorded 400 killings of journalists over the period 2016-2020.
Every year, the United Nations organises the World Press Freedom Global Conference. This year, the conference is held from 2-5 May in Punta Del Este, Uruguay. During the conference, the digital era’s impact on freedom of expression, the safety of journalists, access to information and privacy will be discussed with policymakers, journalists, media representatives, activists, and companies.
At the Global Conference in Uruguay, the World Press Freedom Prize will also be given out to honour a person, organisation or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially when achieved in particularly dangerous contexts.
Better Internet for Kids for World Press Freedom Day
Themes such as media and press independence, freedom of information and expression, journalism and media ethics, and digital and press disinformation are at the core of the mission of Better Internet for Kids. Indeed, from a noticeably early age, children and youth need to be given the tools and opportunities to correctly find independent and free public information sources and to recognise and fight fake news. If you are interested in the topic, we recommend reading the following resources:
- Learn how to correctly discuss online information about conflicts and emergency situations, navigating through misinformation and fake news, with children and young people in this article from the Austrian Safer Internet Centre.
- Read more about the June 2021 training meeting of the Insafe network of European Safer Internet Centres (SICs). One of the focus topics of discussion was fake news, misinformation, and disinformation. The event is an opportunity to facilitate sharing of experience and good practice between network countries, and to explore areas of common ground and collaboration.
- Discover simple ways to address disinformation and foster media literacy in your classroom in this article for the eTwinning platform.
- Rewatch Insafe’s workshop “Social media – opportunities, rights and responsibilities” at the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG 2020) discussing limitations to freedom of speech on social media.