World Press Freedom Day: We don’t score well, according to report

By Alex Rosaria


Today is World Press Freedom Day. This day aims to bring attention to the right of the public to access information without censorship and threats.

The role of press freedom and independence in sustaining democracy and safeguarding human rights cannot be overstated. As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd, it’s crucial to recognize the indispensable role that free press plays.

Press freedom is not a privilege, but a fundamental human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Moreover, freedom of press is a cornerstone of democracy, facilitating informed debate and decision-making. The free and independent press should serve as the voice of the voiceless and an advocate for justice and equality.

However, press freedom is under threat in many parts of the world. In Curaçao the press is free and there’s a wide selection of media outlets. But as noted in Transparency’s International National Integrity System Assessment: Curaçao 2013, news here is rarely fact-checked which seriously “undermines the accountability and independence of the media and, in particular, their role as a watchdog.”

Additionally, the report concludes that many actors in the media don’t possess sufficient working knowledge of basic democratic principles and/or established principles and norms of journalistic practice. Some outlets are more interested in gore than anything.

An ex-writer for a local newspaper told me that the owner of the paper he wrote for came up to him one day with a copy of another local paper and said: “This is what we need: blood,” referring to articles and pictures the competitor had dedicated to a terrible car accident.

Some popular media outlets are known to spread unfounded and highly biased xenophobic and anti-immigrant sentiments. A recent news article suggests – without any substantiation – that “pretty” Venezuelan females that arrive at the airport in Curaçao are not tourists, but prostitutes. These generalities and accusations have sparked a debate about the role of the media in shaping public perceptions based on unfounded and unproven stories.

As we commemorate World Press Freedom Day let us reaffirm our commitment to defending and promoting press freedom and independent press. Only then can the media function as a cornerstone of democracy and human rights.

~ Alex David Rosaria (53) is a freelance consultant active in Asia and the Pacific. He is a former Member of Parliament, Minister of Economic Affairs, State Secretary of Finance and UN Implementation Officer in Africa and Central America. He is from Curaçao and has an MBA from University of Iowa (USA). ~


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