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Role of journalism acknowledged on World Press Freedom Day

"We express our gratitude to the journalists who continue to report the facts." ~ Prime Minister Justin Trudeau | "The press plays an important role in holding those in power accountable." ~ NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh

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Outgoing MLA John Horgan addressing the media at the BC Legislature, Feb 9, 2023. [web]

Wednesday May 3, 2023 | NATIONAL

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

World Press Freedom Day on May 3 is recognized by the Prime Minister and NDP Leader in statements as posted online.

This year’s theme is Shaping a Future of Rights where freedom of expression is a driver for all other human rights. Highlighting the importance of accurate and reliable information in the digital age is part of this year’s theme. Last year the theme was Journalism Under Digital Siege.

In the United States last year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said about World Press Freedom Day: “The United States has a vital stake in promoting the right to freedom of expression, including a free press, at home and also around the world.  The free flow of information, ideas, opinions, including dissenting ones, is essential to inclusive and tolerant societies.”

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This is the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993. The fight for press freedom remains critical, with attacks on media freedom, journalists, and access to information on the rise globally.

Last year UNESCO said World Press Freedom Day “…acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.”

BC commendation to news media:

Back in December 2020 then Finance Minister Selina Robinson commended the role of media in delivering factual information: “Your coverage has kept people informed and connected,” said Minister Robinson, adding: “You have been outstanding.” Robinson said the media in BC has shown “dedication, innovation and hard work” which she says has served people, businesses and communities.

In his final speech in the BC Legislative Assembly in February 2023, outgoing MLA John Horgan commended the press for their work.

Current Premier Eby also acknowledges the work of media in his public remarks from time to time, as they follow his work in leading the province.

Island Social Trends on Vancouver Island:

Island Social Trends has been contributing to local and regional journalism since 2008 in the south Vancouver Island area. Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke now reports with the BC Legislative Press Gallery.

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Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke interviewing NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in Victoria, July 2022. [Molly Pearce / Island Social Trends]

Journalism is about writing history as it happens. This material becomes the ‘fodder’ for the material used by governments, researchers, academics, historians, talk show hosts, columnists and commentators in any media format, and authors of fiction and non-fiction. Editorials offer contextual perspective in the moment as the news flies by.

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Hard bound collection of Sooke Voice News and West Shore Voice News in the permanent collections at the Sooke Region Museum. [Photo March 2023]

Island Social Trends is very proud of the permanent archiving of our first 12 years of publishing — as Sooke Voice News and West Shore Voice News (2011 to 2020), as well as MapleLine Magazine (2008 to 2010); published by Brookeline Publishing House Inc — being forever present in the collections at the Sooke Region Museum.

All of that journalism was under the pen and editor’s eye of Mary P Brooke, with community contributors and some freelance and student writers over the years.

Island Social Trends mentors high school students (through their schools) as a way to contribute to the continuance of local journalism skills. [Contact editor@islandsocialtrends.com to inquire about submitting articles throughout the school year.]

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Island Social Trends posts news daily at islandsocialtrends.ca

Statement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on World Press Freedom Day 2023:

“Journalists work tirelessly to report the truth, help hold governments accountable, and provide Canadians with accurate, reliable, and trustworthy information. Today, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, we are reminded of the fundamental role that a free and independent press plays in our democracy.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressing media about EV infrastructure, at Royal Roads University in April 2022. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

“Today, we express our gratitude to the journalists who continue to report the facts, give a voice to the voiceless, and often put themselves at risk to deliver timely and accurate information to the world, including those covering Russia’s ongoing, brutal invasion of Ukraine. We stand in solidarity with journalists in Iran who are facing brutal repression and severe restrictions for covering the Iranian regime’s crackdowns on protests. We also recognize the brave work of journalists in Sudan and other conflict areas around the world, who are keeping the world updated on conflicts and the horrifying impacts they are having on people.

“We have made important progress toward achieving a free press around the world in recent decades. But we know more work needs to be done as journalists continue to face harassment, censorship, restrictive laws, and violence simply for doing their jobs. The Government of Canada will always support the safety of the media, protect access to information, and promote the freedom of the press – both at home and abroad.

“Right now, the journalism industry is contending with a rapidly changing global landscape, increasing disinformation and misinformation, and attempts to undermine media freedom worldwide. As Co-Chair of the Media Freedom Coalition, Canada is working with international partners to promote and protect media freedom. The Government of Canada also continues to work with industry, community, and government partners by supporting projects that help address the growing problem of online disinformation, like the Shooting the Messenger project from the University of British Columbia, which aims to investigate and help counteract online campaigns to discredit and harass journalists.


“On this World Press Freedom Day, we recognize the progress made to achieve a free and independent press around the world, and we recommit to the work left to do at this critical time. We know that Canada is not immune to the challenges facing the free press. Today, I invite all Canadians to reflect on the significance of an independent media and to commit to upholding this fundamental pillar of democracy and a key part of who we are. Let us also pay tribute to the tireless efforts of journalists who speak truth to power and acknowledge those who are imprisoned, endangered, have been injured, or lost their lives while defending the freedom of the press.”

Statement by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh:

“Today, on World Freedom Press Day, we recognize and celebrate the significant work journalists and the media do to create a more free and open society. The press plays an important role in holding those in power accountable, providing information to Canadians and building a more democratic country.

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh (centre) visited with Langford Council on Jan 26, 2023 (from left): Mary Wagner, Colby Harder, Alistair MacGregor MP, Mayor Scott Goodmanson, Kimberley Guiry, and Keith Yacucha. [supplied]

This year’s theme of “Shaping a Future of Rights,” highlighting the role freedom of expression plays in protecting all other human rights, is, now more than ever, critical as Canadian media continues to be threatened. While Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre fundraises off of attacks on Canada’s public broadcaster, across the country journalists are being let go, and local newspapers are closing. Canada’s media must be preserved, especially our public broadcaster who does the hard work of uplifting underrepresented voices and providing news to rural communities.

New Democrats will keep fighting for journalism. We will continue our work to ensure news outlets get paid fairly for their content and that journalists can continue doing their jobs safely.  

Today, and every day, let’s thank our media, who work tirelessly to provide robust debate and timely news that keeps Canadians safe. Let’s acknowledge all they do to uphold freedom of expression and protect our democracy.”

===== RELATED:

Island Social Trends local journalism program for high school students (March 2, 2023)

International Day of Democracy includes view on journalism (September 15, 2022)

NDP draws attention to challenges of women in journalism (August 25, 2022)

Media’s work during COVID pandemic acknowledged by finance minister (December 19, 2020)

Journalism in further danger of losing autonomy in Canada (February 20, 2020)