Pandemic and the human condition

Today marks the World Press Freedom Day, instituted in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly from an initiative of Unesco and making its own the idea expressed in the Declaration of Windhoek, signed two years earlier in that city of Namibia at a congress of African journalists. The objective of the date is “to promote freedom of the press in the world by recognizing that a free, pluralistic and independent press is an essential component of any democratic society.”

As every year, tribute is paid to journalism professionals harassed, persecuted, attacked and killed around the world, who put their lives at risk to fulfill the mission of obtaining the information that the powers (multiple and diverse) want hide and spread it so that societies know the facts in the broadest and deepest possible way and can make their best decisions.

On this occasion, the day takes place in the midst of the mourning that is still going through the murder of the Spaniards David Beriain and Roberto Fraile, killed in Burkina Faso by a group related to Al Qaeda. Beriain had his passage through Argentina: he worked in the newspaper El Liberal de Santiago del Estero.

The image of crazy adventurers is very distant from the real will of journalists who expose themselves to reprisals for seeking the truth. No colleague wants to suffer attacks, much less lose his life in a coverage; it is driven by the highest values ​​of a profession that embraces itself with vocation, at the service of others.

In the surveys that are periodically made, Africa is not the most dangerous continent; Latin America heads a regrettable list, with Mexico in the first place in murders of journalists according to Reporters Without Borders (it revealed 19 crimes in 2020) and Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Brazil as other countries where it is risky to practice the profession.

In the semi-annual report of the Association of Journalistic Entities of Argentina (Adepa), “Shadows for the exercise of freedom of the press”, it is noted that the climate for the exercise of the activity has deteriorated since the pandemic began to spread in Argentina. Pressure from power against the media and justice and projects to “criminalize” journalism are mentioned. On the other hand, today the annual report of the Argentine Journalism Forum (Fopea), a document indicative of the situation in the country, will be released.

At each opportunity, Unesco defines a specific topic of interest. This year “Information as a public good” is addressed, an idea that emphasizes “the importance of valuing information as a public good and to explore what can be done in the production, distribution and reception of content to strengthen journalism and advance in transparency and empowerment without leaving anyone behind ”. The organization considers that this matter “is urgent for all the countries of the world and recognizes the changing communication system that affects our health, human rights, democracies and sustainable development.”

In this sense, it defines three axes on which to act: “measures to guarantee the economic viability of the communication media; mechanisms to guarantee the transparency of Internet companies, and the improvement of media and information literacy capacities that allow people to recognize and value, as well as defend and demand, journalism as a fundamental part of information as a public good ”.

From a free, professional, independent, rigorous and useful press to society derives a consolidated and quality democracy. Reaching the established objectives requires the participation of everyone, including the governments of the day.

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