Press Release

Media freedom is essential for informed democracy. It is the role of journalists to hold power to account. Yet, every day, that freedom is being eroded by those who wish to see journalists silenced.

Today is the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, a date established by the United Nations in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013.

The statistics collated by UNESCO are brutal and ugly. On average, one journalist is killed every four days. In nine out of ten of these murders, the killers go unpunished.This impunity sends the message that journalists can be killed without the perpetrators risking consequences or punishment. It is a symptom of the breakdown of civilised society.

Credit: UNESCO

With a unique global overview of public media, the Public Media Alliance (PMA)  team note the growing trend of rhetoric and contempt building against journalists in an attempt to undermine the essential role they play in society. Sadly, the voices stoking and attempting to legitimise that hatred, include the voices of politicians who seek to frame journalists as ‘Enemies of the People’.

High quality journalism is a core value of public media, it must be strengthened and protected. There is an urgent need for public media organisations worldwide to come together and stand firm against impunity for crimes against journalists.

This morning that call was led by Cilla Benkö, CEO and Director General, Swedish Radio (Sveriges Radio), who has made what she describes as, an honest and urgent appeal:

“We must stand together for a different climate of debate. There is a reason why inflated rhetoric is used: in an increasingly polarised society, it is wind in the sails of populism. But the manner in which sarcasm and humorous memes are being used as tools to cultivate distrust of journalists is far less innocent than it might first appear. We are in a period where the freedom of the press is of fundamental importance.

Research shows that societies with strong public broadcasting corporations operating side by side with commercial media function better and have citizens who are better informed and can therefore also participate better in society”.

Please, stand with Public Media organisations worldwide and support the call for the rights of journalists and the role they play in civilised societies, to be protected and defended. This silence against impunity must end.

Sally-Ann Wilson, CEO PMA

Credit: UNESCO