Today, May 3, 2013, is World Press Freedom Day, a day to celebrate and honor the value of a free press. It started in 1993, when the United Nations General Assembly decided to highlight the need for truly independent media – free of censorship. In scores of countries around the world, media outlets are banned from presenting controversial subjects. Journalists, editors and publishers have been harassed, injured and even murdered amidst valiant efforts to publicize the truth about an event or a circumstance. In the past decade, some 600 journalists, social media producers and media workers have been killed while reporting news to the general public. It’s evident in México, for example, as that nation wages an ill-fated war on drugs. But, it can be as seemingly mundane as China’s ongoing internet censorship. Even here in the U.S., the Bush Administration forbade media coverage of the flag-draped coffins of dead military personnel being returned from Iraq and Afghanistan under the guise of privacy concerns for the families.
A free press is synonymous with free speech; the two ideals are intrinsically bonded and are hallmarks of a truly democratic state. As bloggers, it’s our obligation to uphold this mantle. Civilization depends on it.