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Friday, September 22, 2023
ROME, Apr 29 2019 (IPS) - Journalists and media outlets worldwide have recently been subject to a subtle wave of vilification. Populist rhetoric and public indifference have begun to threaten the very foundation of our freedom.
Journalists provide the checks and balances fundamental to all democracies, by highlighting government failures or reporting on societal injustice.
But the tone of leadership today has shifted: denunciation of the media as “biased,” and the factual information they report as “fake news,” is forcing citizens into confusion and misinformation.
This tactic has given authorities the opening to dictate their own narrative and divert attention from corruption and other abuses.
As recently as six months ago, the National Broadcasting Council in Poland fined a leading television station half a million dollars “for promoting illegal activities.” This was after the network’s coverage of anti-government protests.
In Hungary, the ruling Fidesz party has taken matters further: they have consolidated control over private media outlets in the hands of government allies. This has effectively quashed critical reporting and media independence.
In the United States, we have seen a disturbing pattern of authorities disparaging journalists when factually challenged about their narratives. Here, their disdain for ordinary media scrutiny is self- evident – and the repercussions are only just beginning to emerge.
Accordingly, this year’s World Press Freedom Day events in Addis Ababa are of critical importance to the global community of journalists.
The theme of this year’s celebration is apt: Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.”
It is focused on illuminating current challenges faced by media in elections, along with media’s potential in supporting peace and reconciliation processes. Furthermore, the UNESCO driven events will also examine the safety of journalists and how to combat disinformation.
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