World Freedom of the Press Day is a day to recongnise the fundamental principle of media freedom, as well as to remember journalists who have lost their lives in the pursuit of truth and justice. The day also highlights the need to defend attacks on the independence of media.
The year began with an attack on this freedom, with the tragic terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris. Although the attack was horrific, the response to the attack in Paris and across the world shows us that the right to freedom of expression is something that is cherished, and that we can all stand up for.
“In a time of seemingly unlimited access to information and new methods of content delivery, more and more areas of the world are becoming virtually inaccessible to journalists,” Freedom of the Press 2015 Report, from Freedom House.
According to an analysis by Freedom House, global press freedom declined in 2014 to its lowest point in more than a decade, with journalists facing increasing restrictions – including threats on their lives.
Reporters without Borders recorded 69 journalists who lost their lives in2014, with the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, and numerous ISIS kidnappings and executions drawing the worlds’ attention to the professions’ mounting dangers.
So what does freedom of the press mean for societies and peace?
Freedom of expression is core to what makes a society peaceful.
When comparing the Global Peace Index and the Freedom of the Press Index, it is evident that countries with greater levels of press freedom are more peaceful.
The Free Flow of Information is one of the eight key pillars upon which peaceful societies flourish. Accurate information provides transparency for government decisions, helping people participate in politics and make informed decisions about their society.
Key to the free flow of information is how easily citizens can access information, free from political or economic bias.
According an analysis from the Institute for Economics and Peace analysis of peace, a free flow of information has positive flow on effects, including keeping government accountable, countering corruption, enabling civil society to better participate in politics, and improving people’s ability to express opinions without fear or prejudice.
According to a conservative estimate from Reporters Without Borders, 24 journalists have been killed in 2015 so far, with a further 158 journalists, 13 media assistants and 164 netizens imprisoned.
In 2014, 69 journalists were killed.
The 2015 Freedom of the Press Report found that just 14 percent of the world’s population has access to a free press: one in seven people live in countries where coverage of political news is robust, the safety of journalists is guaranteed, state intrusion in media affairs is minimal, and the press is not subject to onerous legal or economic pressures.
There are many different ways to celebrate World Freedom of the Press day: take a look at levels of media freedom around the world, and see how your country compares. You can also find out more from Reporters Without Boarders and Freedom House.
To find out more about the free flow of information and how it relateds to peace, skip to page 36 of the Pillars of Peace report.
Free Flow of Information is one of the eight “Pillars of Peace” that describe the attitudes, structures and institutions that underpin peaceful societies.
From 2000-2013 over 88 journalists in Mexico were killed, and 18 disappeared, making it the Western hemisphere’s most dangerous country for the media.
Freedom of expression is core to what makes a society peaceful. The outpouring of support in Paris and beyond for this freedom reminds us that we, the people, have the power to make the world a more peaceful place.
Vision of Humanity is an initiative of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). IEP have offices in New York and Sydney. For more specific inquiries related to the peace indexes and research, please contact IEP directly.