| || ||To mark the World Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2011, the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) is calling on communicators to use new media responsibly in order to strengthen press freedom and communication rights worldwide. Open access to the Internet, social networks, and new-generation digital devices raise significant concerns related to accountability, privacy, and security, says WACC. |
|Image source: UNESCO|| || |
“21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers” is the theme of World Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2011. The focus is on celebrating the potential of digital technologies as well as established forms of journalism to uphold the right to communicate, freedom of expression, democratic governance, and sustainable development.
WACC calls on communicators from all walks of life – especially the so-called Fourth and Fifth Estates – to exercise responsibility and accountability in using 21st century media in order to strengthen press freedom and communication rights worldwide.
The growth of the Internet and social media have greatly increased the ability of individuals, citizen journalists, and civil society organizations to enhance their right to seek, receive, and impart information as recognized by international human rights standards. Digital media platforms have made it possible for almost anyone to voice their concerns to large audiences and perhaps to be heard.
In many parts of the world, and as recently been witnessed in particular in the countries of the Middle East, bloggers and tweeters are challenging authorities, exposing corruption, and offering alternative viewpoints. As a result, new ways of communicating have enriched news and information resources and reshaped what was traditionally the realm of professional journalism expressed in newspapers and magazines, on radio and television.
However, even as political, social, and cultural barriers are being overcome through the use of 21st century media, new ones are developed in attempts to block, filter, and censor information and knowledge. Simultaneously, open access to the Internet, social networks, and new-generation digital devices raise significant concerns related to accountability, privacy, and security.
WACC recognizes that the right to communicate and freedom of expression are central to building strong democracies, contributing to good governance, promoting the rule of law, and enabling sustainable development through participatory communication. At the same time, WACC is concerned that communicators understand and apply ethical codes of practice both formally and informally when communicating their concerns.
The Chairperson of WACC’s Middle East Region, Dr Riad Jarjour, has said that, “What happened in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, and other countries has underscored the role of media and freedom of expression in shaping our communities and the future of our society. We are experiencing significant transformation in the region and inevitably we now have to focus more on the role of the media and peace journalism.”
The challenge is to optimize the potential of digital media while not compromising political and civil liberties. Likewise, governments and regulators need to respond to civil society’s calls for open and affordable access to mass and community media. The world is immeasurably poorer without communication rights and press freedom. It is immeasurably enriched by the free flow of information and knowledge, which are the lifeblood of democracy.