The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) last month unveiled its report on “World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development”. The report was released at a special event in New York with Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO and Mårten Grunditz, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN, alongside representatives of academia and civil society.
The UNESCO Director in her statement said, “We need to act on the ground to strengthen national legislative frameworks, to train journalists, to build capacity and advance media and information literacy, ahead of today’s event. We must continue to support media independence by promoting professional standards and self-regulation.” The study was spearheaded by UNESCO, in partnership with an advisory group of 27 international experts from civil society and academia with the support of the Government of Sweden. It analyses trends in media freedom worldwide since 2007 from four angles: freedom, pluralism, independence and the safety of journalists.
The report hails the opportunities that new technologies have opened up, empowering individuals through unprecedented ways to access, produce and share media content across multiple platforms. It warns, however, that the increasing control of online content by Internet intermediaries, such as search engines and social media networks, threatens transparency in the free flow of information and raises concerns about the “privatization of censorship,” according to UNESCO. The study applauds the growing awareness of the importance of journalists’ safety throughout the world since 2007, due in large part to the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.