World Press Freedom Day 2011 will be Hosted by the United States
IREX welcomes the announcement that the United States will host World Press Freedom Day for the first time in 2011. As a member of the executive committee organizing the events to be held May 1-3, 2011, in Washington, DC, IREX looks forward to recognizing the advocacy and bravery of those worldwide working to advance media freedom in the digital age.
World Press Freedom Day 2011, with the theme "21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers" will be a platform for journalists, bloggers, free expression advocates, media development professionals and policymakers to keep media freedom on the global agenda. This is critical now more than ever as the internet and mobile technologies expand the routes for gathering and sharing news and information, and also provide new tools to regimes that seek to filter, censor or silence those who seek to express themselves. The conference will culminate with the award ceremony for the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, conferred by UNESCO.
The US Department of State, announcing the hosting of the events in a statement by Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley, said, "New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age."
IREX and more than 20 organizations working to support free expression worldwide are collaborating with the State Department and UNESCO to plan the events. The World Press Freedom Day 2011 Steering Committee said in a statement, “Freedom of expression and freedom of the media are fundamental pillars of democratic society. We welcome the announcement that World Press Freedom Day 2011 will be commemorated this year in Washington, D.C. as a unique opportunity to address these issues as part of a global dialogue."
World Press Freedom Day 2011 will mark 20 years since the Declaration of Windhoek, which led to the establishment of World Press Freedom Day. In those two decades, the media landscape has changed in ways few could have imagined. While there are new and exciting opportunities for professional and citizen journalists, those who seek to freely report the news face greater challenges today than ever before."
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has agreed to be lead funder of World Press Freedom Day 2011. All events, including helping media freedom advocates from around the world come to Washington to describe the challenges they face, will be privately funded. The Knight Foundation will match up to $125,000 in contributions from others to cover the costs. The Newseum and the National Press Club in Washington will provide the primary venues.
UNESCO inaugurated World Press Freedom Day in 1993, two years after African journalists gathered in Windhoek, Namibia, proclaimed that an independent, pluralistic press is fundamental to democracy and economic development and called upon the United Nations to designate a day dedicated to preserving this freedom. UNESCO is the only UN agency with the mandate to promote freedom of expression and its corollary, freedom of the press.
IREX is leading fund-raising efforts within the World Press Freedom Day 2011 executive committee, which also includes the Center for International Media Assistance of the National Endowment for Democracy, United Nations Foundation, and the Department of State. Additional information for those wishing to support to this important event may be obtained by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch World Press Freedom Day 2011 on YouTube.