World Press Freedom Day 2011

In 2011, the focus of the celebration is on the potential of the Internet and digital platforms as well as the more established forms of journalism in contributing to freedom of expression, democratic governance, and sustainable development.

The occasion will also serve to call on Member States to reaffirm and implement their international commitments to guarantee and promote freedom of expression on the Internet and to remind civil society organizations, individuals, and other relevant stakeholders of their central part in furthering the Internet as a global public resource.

Twenty years after the call for the establishment of World Press Freedom Day, the arrival of the digital revolution—the evolution of the Internet, the emergence of new forms of media, and the rise of online social networks—has reshaped the media landscape and made “the press” of 2011 something that those gathered in Windhoek in 1991 could not have imagined.

It is well recognized that the growth of the Internet has greatly expanded the ability of individuals, groups, and others to enhance their freedom of expression and their rights to seek, receive and impart information as recognized by international human rights standards. Specifically, new media platforms have made it possible for almost any citizen to communicate to a large audience; for example, bloggers around the world are challenging authorities, exposing corruption, and expressing their opinions via the Internet. These new frontiers of media have enriched news and information resources and reshaped what has been traditionally the realm of print press, broadcasters, and news agencies.

However, even as new frontiers are being forged by these 21st century media, new barriers and new attempts to block, filter, and censor information are being created. At the same time, the proliferation of the Internet, social networks, and new-generation mobile telephony raises new concerns related to privacy and security of the users.

UNESCO, as the UN Agency with the mandate to promote freedom of expression, recognizes that freedom of expression is central to building strong democracies, contributing to good governance, promoting civic participation and the rule of law, and encouraging human development and security. The right to freedom of expression applies as much to the Internet as to the more traditional forms of media—press, radio, and television. The challenge is to fully optimize the potential of the Internet and digital media while not compromising civil liberties including the right to freedom of expression and privacy.

21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers

New Frontiers of News Media: New Forms of Expression, Journalism, and Participation
Internet-based applications, particularly the emergence of social networks, user-generated content, and micro-blogging have enabled nearly every Internet user to be a potential broadcaster with the ability to rapidly create, modify, and share digital content and knowledge with millions of other users both locally and globally. >> Read more

A Legal and Regulatory Perspective: Better Protection for Freedom of Expression in the Age of Digital Communications
Historically, telecommunication, broadcasting, and other media were separate industry segments; they used different technologies and were governed by different regulations. The recent convergence of communications is dissolving established barriers, not only between professional journalists and citizens using the new tools, but also in the legal and regulatory environment. >> Read more

New Barriers: Online Blocking, Censorship, Surveillance, Safety of Journalists and Bloggers
According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), nearly 2 billion people—over one-quarter of the world’s population—use the Internet. Its advent has substantially changed the media landscape and information flows. With its participatory capabilities, the Internet has opened new horizons for freedom of expression, and this trend is most likely to continue in the future. >> Read more

New Trends of Journalism: New Business Models, Media Ownership, and Preserving Editorial Independence
The rise of the Internet and other digital media pose a particular challenge for traditional news outlets including print and broadcasting. In many parts of the world, newspaper sales have declined since the early 2000s, and some have opted only to have electronic versions of their publications. >> Read more

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