The importance of Unesco’s World Press Freedom Day 2020

By Andrew Hislop, Wan-Ifra
  • The theme this year, during the coronavirus crisis, is ‘Journalism without fear or favour’
  • The World Association of Newspapers, Wan-Ifra, says we need independent journalism every day, to help us better understand the world
By Andrew Hislop, Wan-Ifra |

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Journalism without fear or favour – Why Wan-Ifra is supporting Unesco’s World Press Freedom Day campaign in 2020

Good journalism is made for times such as these. Good journalists have ensured our leaders remain accountable, their policies are scrutinised, and their promises will be kept in check as we navigate the coming months and a cautious return to optimism. 

To mark World Press Freedom Day we must celebrate this, recognise the sacrifices of media professionals who ensure the daily free flow of information, and hope that independent media can financially survive to help lead us into better times.

During a crisis, journalism is arguably more vital than ever. The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly placed independent media front and centre in providing verified, accurate and potentially life-saving information, particularly in countries where government has floundered, or the Covid-19 response has been found wanting.

But to say we need journalism now more than ever masks a reality worth reiterating loud and clear – especially as we celebrate World Press Freedom Day. Independent journalism is vital, day in, day out, for everyone. Whether we are facing global catastrophe or exposing local concerns, media’s public interest role is essential to how we understand our world and make decisions in it.

At this critical time, journalists and media professionals need our support. The measures taken in reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic have accentuated the financial precarity of media worldwide, risking the survival of independent journalism and challenging the safety and economic security of media professionals.

It remains to be seen what will survive of our profession – the profession as we know it today – once this crisis has passed. The landscape may look very different; the way we gather, produce and consume the news likewise. Despite the painful, inevitable turmoil this will bring, we must embrace the opportunities that arise, the new ways of working, doing business, and our relationship with the world and people around us.

But one thing is certain to prevail, regardless of how different, how difficult the future looks. The very soul of our profession, our ability to conduct journalism – without fear or favour.

Andrew Heslop

Executive Director, Press Freedom