Journalism Without Fear: Despite threats to press freedom, hope remains.

Author:Mateos, Evelyn
 
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Last month, the media industry commemorated World Press Freedom Day on May 3 in the middle of a global pandemic. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), for nearly 30 years, World Press

Freedom Day has acted as a reminder for governments to respect their commitment to press freedom; it has supported media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom; and it has remembered the journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.

This year, UNESCO launched a global campaign on media and social media channels, with a focus on "Journalism without Fear or Favour (sic)" in an increasingly complex media landscape.

"As the (COVID-19) pandemic spreads, it has also given rise to a second pandemic of misinformation, from harmful health advice to wild conspiracy theories. The press provides the antidote: verified, scientific, fact-based news and analysis," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on the UNESCO website.

Now more than ever, we know that freedom of the press is imperative.

TRUMP'S RHETORIC

No country's administration has a perfect relationship with the media. Nevertheless, President Trump administration's hostility towards the U.S. press seems to be unmatched. His weapon are his harmful words, in particular the ones he spread on social media.

According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a database of press freedom incidents in the U.S., on April 11, Trump reached his 2,000th attack on the media when he tweeted in regard to a New York Times' report which traced the origins of New York COVID-19 cases to Europe and not China.

"According to our analysis of more than 19,400 of Trump's tweets, 2,000 means that he has, on average, tweeted negatively about the press more than once a day for the past 4.5 years," the report stated.

"These kinds of relentless attacks can take a toll, and we know that that was the president's aim because he told (CBS News correspondent) Lesley Stahl that the goal was to undermine journalists so that when they wrote negative stories about him people wouldn't believe the stories," said Sarah Matthews, senior communications manager for Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP).

She pointed to a recent Pew Research Center report which showed that while Democrats' trust in many news outlets has remained stable or increased since 2014, Republicans have reported greater distrust for 14 of 20 news sources that were highlighted, including CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post--three frequent targets of Trump's criticism.

One of the most chilling effects of Trump's rhetoric is the impact that it has had on press freedom worldwide. Countless examples exist. "The Trump Administration and the Media," a report written by former Washington Post editor and current Arizona State University professor Leonard Downie Jr. published in April, provides a good snapshot. According to the report, between January 2017 and May...

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