Monday, May 03, 2021

Use World Press Freedom Day and #followlocaljournalists hashtag to remind readers where to get reliable information

Today is World Press Freedom Day, an annual celebration of free, independent media worldwide. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization first observed it 30 years ago after the Windhoek Declaration, which stated that an impartial press was vital to the public good.

Some news organizations, including Gannett and McClatchy, are promoting use of the Twitter hashtag #FollowLocalJournalists to spotlight the work of local journalists they respect and rely on. Jon Allsop, editor of Columbia Journalism Review, writes, "Twitter, for one, is right to observe that local reporters merit a national spotlight. They need an awful lot more than new followers, though. #FundLocalJournalists."

You can use the hashtag and World Press Freedom Day as a news peg to remind readers of the value of local news media in your community. Research shows that when local newspapers shrink or close, fewer people vote or run for local office, and people are more likely to vote straight-party ticket.

UNESCO says the day "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. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story. This year’s World Press Freedom Day theme 'Information as a Public Good' serves as a call to affirm the importance of cherishing information as a public good, and exploring what can be done in the production, distribution and reception of content to strengthen journalism, and to advance transparency and empowerment while leaving no one behind. The theme is of urgent relevance to all countries across the world. It recognizes the changing communications system that is impacting on our health, our human rights, democracies and sustainable development."

Find out more about World Press Freedom Day here, including a press kit and information about the 2021 Global Conference. 

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