From Brussels to Jakarta, the EBU celebrates the importance of free, independent, and high-quality journalism on World Press Freedom Day.
Free, independent, and quality journalism matters today perhaps more than ever. On the one hand, critical and ethical journalism helps to build peaceful and inclusive societies around the world. On the other hand, quality journalism is the only answer to the challenges of the so-called “post-truth era” and the fight against fake news and disinformation. These are two sides to the same coin: protecting and empowering journalists is essential, but so is empowering citizens to become ‘media literate’ critical thinkers.
It is therefore no coincidence that “Critical Minds for Critical Times” is the theme of World Press Freedom Day 2017, organised by UNESCO on behalf of the United Nations to highlight the fundamental principles of press freedom. During a four-day international conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, more than a thousand representatives from civil society, public service media and other key stakeholders are gathering to discuss the challenges faced by journalists and the media around the world – from censorship to filter bubbles. A key focus is on how the media can contribute to achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In Jakarta, the EBU is co-organising a parallel session on how media innovation can boost inclusiveness and gender equality with the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union and the International Federation of Journalists. This topic feeds into the broader theme of Sustainable Development Goal 16 on ‘just, peaceful and inclusive societies’ in which effective public institutions guarantee fundamental freedoms. Free, independent and pluralistic media is an essential element of this vision for the future.
In Brussels, the EBU is one of the partners of "Difference Day", an initiative by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Université Libre de Bruxelles and Erasmushogeschool Brussel, BOZAR, Evens Foundation and imec, to celebrate World Press Freedom Day. Speaking at Difference Day on 3 May, EBU Director for Public Affairs and Communications and leader of the EBU's Big Data initiative Guillaume Klossa underlined that "the media sector is not just any economic sector. It impacts public opinion, the public sphere and democracy. It is also a key sector for innovation."
But for the continued relevance of the media, especially in the technological era, we need trust. Moving forward, Klossa said, "let us be mindful of the major challenges technological transformation has created for us and take stock of the opportunities we have not been able to seize. Let's seize them now, work together as a media ecosystem which stands for impartial, accurate and high-quality information, where the public sphere is an arena for informed choices and constructive debate. The media road project that we will be starting to implement by the end of the year will be a major lever to speed up innovation.”