Friday, May 3, 2013

May 3: World Press Freedom Day

Today is indeed World Press Freedom Day, an international celebration of, you've guessed it, freedom of the press. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are, in essence, the same thing. One refers to spoken language and the other to its written form.

What will we use for art projects when
all newspapers are replaced with websites?
Unsurprisingly, countries with little or no democracy tend to have a poor record when it comes to freedom of the press. Of course, non-democratic political systems, dictatorships and despots require a high level of control over the press and free expression as these interfere with propaganda and their efforts to maintain absolute power.

The fact that the freedom of the press is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of the UN is cause to celebrate. In fact, the UDHR is the world's most translated document. UNESCO's Index Translationum lists the most translated authors and most common language pairings.

It's one thing to feature an ideal and another thing to uphold or even enforce it. The phone-hacking scandal in the UK showed that freedom of the press can't be left unchecked, and that the term "freedom of the press" isn't an excuse for the media to do as they please.

The press, for all their foibles, do occasionally spread news. When they're doing things morally they should certainly be supported.