(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional; This is not medical advice or scientific fact; the following article is simply my personal findings on studying Covid-19 via the internet. The following article is not intended for anything more than a personal opinion piece.)
What is World Press Freedom Day?
Following the recommendation of the U.N.E.S.C.O.’s General Conference, the 3rd of May is observed as International Press Freedom Day annually since 1993.
The date, strategically chosen, marks the anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration, signed on the 3rd of May 1991.
Windhoek Declaration was a statement of principles, dedicated to freedom of the press and pluralistic media, proposed by African newspaper journalists.
World Press Freedom Day, an outgrowth of this declaration, is celebrated worldwide by honoring journalists who have lost or risked their lives for free and fair reporting.
Windhoek Declaration serves as-
- A reminder of the importance of free journalism.
- An assessment of the state of freedom of press globally and the challenges posed to it
- A tribute to those courageous media professionals who are dedicated to the cause.
- A means to spread awareness of all of the above among the general public.
This year, however, the celebrations of World Press Freedom Day have been postponed, given the lock-downs imposed worldwide due to the spread of Coronavirus pandemic.
Why is Press Freedom Necessary?
Media, media persons, and media houses are incredibly powerful.
They can form public opinion, cause or prevent wars, make or mar governments, and are also capable of turning the course of history or even rewrite it.
Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, was aware of the power of media even half a century ago. He once said, “Let me control the media, and I will turn any nation into a heard of pigs.”
The manipulation of the general public’s minds under Hitler’s regime is well documented now, but back then, it did its share of irrevocable damage.
There are lessons to be learned on the importance of freedom of the press not only from history but also in present times. Those in power are infiltrating the minds of the general public by peddling fake and distorted news throughout the world.
It can be concluded without a doubt that free and fair reportage is needed for a just, stable, and peaceful world.
India and the State of Free Press
The state of freedom of the Indian press and media is dismal at best. Every passing day television media and news channels intentionally stoop to new lows of trash news and propagandist reporting.
There are only a couple of news channels which base their news on-ground reporting and research. The rest are replete with anchors holding viewers’ attention with their antics and generalized statement stoking communal hatred and disharmony.
An aware, well educated, sensitized, and the well-read viewer can easily make out the blatant bias of a particular section of media in favor of the ruling authorities. They turn a blind eye to every wrongdoing by those in power and make heroes out of them on their channels instead.
The tragedy, as well as the root cause of this and India’s other problems, is that a vast majority of its citizens are uneducated, unemployed, and poor. All of these reasons leave them with hardly any faculties to critically analyze the news being sold to them.