Unpacking the views of Press Freedom
by Viji Rajesh
India ranks 140 in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index out of 180 countries - Reporters without Freedom. It has dropped down from 138 in 2018 for reasons such as Police violence, Attacks by Maoist fighters, Manifestations of “anti-national” thought, #MeToo movement in 2018 unveiled many cases of harassment and sexual assault. The drop in ranking has been linked to the existence of India’s sedition law that encourages self-censorship particularly in a period of heightened nationalism.
Every year, 3 May is a date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO's General Conference in 1991. This year’s World Press Freedom Day, whose theme is “Media for Democracy, Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation”.
India: 140 out of 180 countries in the world rankings in 2019
Find out more https://rsf.org/en/india
In Indian context, the massive outbreak of the fake news or disinformation in the social media has created a sense of distrust towards the journalism. In elections, Social Media is playing an important role but it has also taken a dark turn where the misinformation that is being circulated creating intolerance and violence. Extreme views, nationalist opinions, conspiracy theories flourish the surface of the country and act as an outer layer is not functioning when media in India is mostly self-regulated.
Shri M Venkaiah Naidu (Vice President of India)
“I urge the media to always remain committed to objectivity & truthfulness and report on all issues without any fear or favour. As the 4th estate, media has a huge responsibility in strengthening our democratic & pluralistic foundations.”
On the occasion of #WorldPressFreedomDay let's reaffirm our pledge to uphold the banner of a free press around the world.
Mamata Banerjee (Chief Minister, West Bengal)
“Press is the fourth pillar in a democracy and must perform its duties fearlessly. We respect journalists for their contribution to society. In Bangla, we have started the Mabhoi insurance scheme and pension scheme for them”
Capt. Amarinder Singh (Chief Minister of Punjab)
Freedom of press is not an end in itself but a means to the end of achieving a free society. Let's pledge towards enhancing the respect and independence the Fourth Pillar of Democracy has enjoyed traditionally to build a stronger and better India.#WorldPressFreedomDay
Jignesh Mevani(MLA, Vadgam Assembly Constituency, Gujarat)
In times of fake news, clickbait & countries where leaders don’t hold a single press conference in 5 years, thinking of Gauri who was killed for her fearless grassroots journalism...hope on #WorldPressFreedomDay our media does more courageous stories, less godi PR management.
“A free & independent press is crucial to a healthy & transparent democracy. Under the current govt. our fourth pillar has been under constant attack for telling the truth. This #WorldPressFreedomDay we promise to ensure our media will always be given the right to free expression.”
“There are a lot of ways to try and restrain the freedom of press. One of them is by trying to sue them into silence. The Wire is being sued for over 11,500 crores.”
“In countries like India, the media have a responsibility to fight backward ideas such as casteism and communalism, and help the people fight poverty and other social evils.”
“Free & independent #journalism serves an essential role in democracies. It bridges divides through accurate reporting, cover human stories & present solutions. This World #PressFreedom Day, we re-commit to advance the agenda of deepening #Democracy in #digital times.”
#PressFreedom and protection of the journalists should be the duty of the government by taking action towards people who are attacking journalists. This day is 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.