Getting Ready for World Press Freedom Day 2011

Posted by Tiffany Miller
April 22, 2011
Sunrise Illuminates Glass Panels of Journalists Memorial

The U.S. Department of State is gearing up for World Press Freedom Day 2011 (WPFD 2011). This is the first time that WPFD is being hosted in the United States. More than 100 speakers from 44 countries will join over 800 registered participants from 100 countries in this year's commemoration.

This year's events kick off with an Opening Ceremony on Sunday, May 1, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The next two days will be filled with panel discussions and speakers covering a wide range of topics including social media, censorship, and press freedom. On May 3, the events will close with a ceremony honoring UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize winner Ahmad Zeidabadi, a jailed Iranian journalist.

Additional WPFD Events are taking place throughout the world in places like Ethiopia, Cambodia, and Chile. In the United States, Temple University, my alma mater, is hosting an event in honor of World Press Freedom Day entitled Social Media and Press Freedom -- a webcast on April 25 that will include an international panel of scholars and journalists to discuss the impact of social media on press freedom worldwide. The discussions will cover benefits, challenges, and limitations of social media and press freedom. Panelists for the Temple event will include: Moustafa Ayad, an independent media consultant; Andy Carvin, who leads National Public Radio's social media strategy; and Ibrahim Saleh, a professor of journalism at the University of Cape Town South Africa. Susan Jacobson, a professor of Journalism at Temple, will moderate. The live webcast will run from 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. on April 25. Viewers are encouraged to tune in and participate in the panel discussion on the Internet here, or visit their World Press Freedom day Facebook page.

Other universities are joining the discussion as well. Journalism students at Georgetown University, the official university partner for the event, recently posted a YouTube video inviting students to create YouTube videos answering the question, "What does press freedom mean to you?" The best videos submitted will be featured on the World Press Freedom Day official website. Also, Georgetown University graduate students in journalism will serve as student reporters from WPFD 2011, providing social media updates about the event and lend their unique student perspective to the role of new media.

And we'd like to invite you to join the discussion as well, either at one of the links above, at the World Press Freedom Day 2011 Facebook page, or in the comments below. What does press freedom mean to you, and what ideas do you have to help promote it?



United Arab Emirates
April 25, 2011

Jozy in the United Arab Emirates writes:

Lack of exploitation of man by man
For any reason
And allow him to
Life in

Darryl Z.
New York, USA
April 25, 2011

Darryl Z. in New York writes:

Key components of freedom of the press can be thought of in terms of access, context, interpretation and communication. Addressing each part properly would take a book; instead I only have time for a few paragraphs.

With regard to access, the press can never be allowed to be totally free. Issues of national security, for instance, will always hinder, access to certain types of information. It is the job of the press to determine if the security clearance is justified and dangerous for the press to simply accept the government representative's word.

While the press is given some latitude to place the context of the story, reporters and editors should not allow personal bias to reflected in the news. That being said, bias will always be part of placing the story's context and there should be some tolerance for this as long as the point of view is clearly defined. (CNN (Liberal) vs Fox News (Conservative) are good examples.)

Interpretation of the facts by reporters and new agencies should be free to the extent that they are factually based. Clearly, interpretations should be expressed as such, just as opinions should be reserved for Op Ed pages, blogs or talk shows.

Communication by the press should be allowed provided that the prior three components are upheld. Press communications via internet should not be hindered by any government. Of course, the internet is the greatest source of danger to media moguls, autocrats, dictators and totalitarians.

Accordingly, it is the internet that will be the major battle ground for press freedom during this century.

New Mexico, USA
April 28, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

It has been fairly stated in legal circles that "the only defense against slander and libel is the truth".

I think the President today just outlined the difference between "freedom of speech" and the freedom to "make stuff up" in addressing the notion held by some that he wasn't born in America.

I suppose I could dedicate an entire chapter of "The Cure for Political Stupidity and/or How Not To Go To War With America" to this subject, but I must agree with the President that it would just distract from the core issues otherwise considered of dire consequence to our national interests and further entertain "silliness".

I only get silly for common cause and the common good lends a little perspective that way.

Let me then just add one thought to the President's here and suggest that the "birthers" should feel free to get a grip on reality anytime now...

Lest the global public become convinced we are fast becoming a nation of partisan political tea-sipping idiots.

Forest Gump was right, and that's all I have to say about that.



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