World Press Freedom Day: Take Care of the Journalists
by Jennifer Karchmer
Jennifer Karchmer is the Washington State Bureau Correspondent for Reporters Without Borders-USA. In this volunteer role, Jennifer monitors freedom of the press issues and advocates on behalf of journalists worldwide. See her work with RWB at www.jenniferkarchmer.com.
With the deaths of two journalists in Libya last month, it’s even more important that you know about World Press Freedom Day. UNESCO (the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) organizes this event to celebrate and evaluate press freedom, to defend the media from attacks and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty (like photojournalists Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros who were killed on April 20 while covering violence in war-torn Misrata in Libya).
Each year since 1993, World Press Freedom Day has been celebrated on May 3.
Of course, the life of a war photographer is dangerous; it’s the courage and persistence that he displays despite the inherent risks that make the service even more worthy. Whether you are a professional journalist or not, standing up for freedom of the press is everyone’s business. Don’t you think?
What Can You Do?
On May 3, consider putting exact change in the honor box on the street corner and purchase your local newspaper to support published voices. Make a donation to your local community newspaper or start a subscription to keep the printed version going.
“Don’t wait to be deprived of news to stand up and fight for it.”
So goes the slogan used by the international press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders (RWB), which has headquarters in Paris and US offices in Wash, DC, New York, Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Arizona and Texas. It seems to be saying: “Don’t take for granted your right to freedom of the press, freedom of speech. Get out and vote, buy a newspaper, attend a public meeting and make your voice be heard.”
For a moving perspective on freedom of the press, go to this RWB webpage: http://tinyurl.com/3jked23 and scroll down all the way to the video “25th Anniversary…” (runtime 3 mins 18 secs).
World Press Freedom Day is a reminder of the struggles and challenges that journalists face everyday around the world reporting the news. While you may not be a professional journalist yourself, you are most likely a consumer of news, with an interest in the world around you and therefore must acknowledge the rigors under which journalists operate to disseminate the truth. On May 3 and beyond, you can advocate for journalists locally and internationally.
On another note, we are fortunate that nonprofit agencies, businesses and individuals in Whatcom County emerge to volunteer their time and effort to Whatcom Watch, and above all, share their good fortune with us. We would like to thank the folks at ReSources for Sustainable Communities at 2309 Meridian Street in Bellingham for offering their lovely meeting room where Whatcom Watch has been able to hold editorial meetings and community roundtable discussions. We appreciate this space as we do not have a dedicated office of our own (we are exploring this idea so please contact us if you have ideas).
Also, we must thank an anonymous volunteer who has been distributing the newspaper to the Barkley Branch of the Bellingham Public Library recently. We kindly request that this thoughtful person contact us so we may include your name in the masthead that appears on page two with all of the volunteers. You may contact Bill McCallum at (360) 734-6007 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone else who would like to help distribute Whatcom Watch to a neighborhood, coffee shop, workplace, office or anywhere, please contact Bill and he will set you up with a stack of newspapers. Thank you! §