Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman of Yemen holds a picture of then-missing Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a demonstration outside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 5, 2018. (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

World Press Freedom Day Marked as Hundreds of Journalists Languish in Prison

World Press Freedom Day was marked this year amid a changing media landscape, and as the words “fake news” and “alternative facts” have entered into mainstream consciousness. Front and center in the debate over the historical role of the media as “guardian of democracy” has been US President Donald Trump, who on Friday asserted that, “Unfortunately, some of the press does not cover me accurately and, in fact, they go out of their way to cover me inaccurately, so I don’t think that’s a free press. I think that’s a dishonest press.” Meanwhile, the International Federation of Journalists reported that at least 95 reporters were killed last year, in addition 15 in 2019. Perhaps the most notable death was that of Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in October by Saudi agents in the Middle East kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. Ironically, Turkey has jailed more reporters than any other country in the world, with the Committee to Protect Journalists having pegged the number in a February study at 68. In total, the report found that more than 250 journalists are languishing in prisons worldwide, with China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia all having increased their crackdown on the media in 2018. Moreover, the latest Press Freedom Index, released in April by Reporters Without Borders, showed that practicing journalism is becoming more dangerous in nearly every part of the globe. The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day to raise awareness of the importance of the right to freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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