OTTAWA – The theme for World Press Freedom Day this year is “Journalism without Fear or Favour”. In an increasingly complex media landscape, the United Nations and UNESCO underscore the importance of combating disinformation during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“The powerful digital tools at our fingertips give us the capacity to share information in seconds, be it factual, false or misleading,” said Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. “During this pandemic, we’ve witnessed the danger that can result from misleading statements delivered by political leaders and powerful social media ‘influencers’. To ensure the public has continued access to strong, evidence-based information, we must protect journalists and credible media outlets. We must identify and discredit blatant attempts by those in authority to disparage and publicly shame journalists for asking a question or reporting a fact.”
Despite initial success by some news media outlets in navigating the transition to online platforms, the COVID-19 crisis now threatens to destabilize even the most established operations. This week Postmedia laid off 80 employees and shut down 15 weekly newspapers. Cuts at Canadian Press, CBC and Torstar in the last year and as a result of COVID-19 mean that journalists are being laid off from coast to coast.
“This is no time to be laying off journalists. At all times, but especially during a crisis, people need to have access to reliable sources of information,” said Ms. Roberts, who had a 40-year career as a journalist.
The Green Party reaffirms its commitment to a vibrant, diverse media sector as a prerequisite for a healthy democracy. Greens support increased funding for the CBC and Radio Canada so they can stop taking advertising.
“We must not forget that around the world journalists risk their lives to bring us the truth. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that 25 journalists were killed while doing their jobs last year. To date in 2020, CPJ has recorded 13 journalists as murdered, missing or killed in crossfire. Let’s take a moment today to remember their sacrifice and to renew our commitment to free and open media must not be forgotten.”
Green parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands) added: “In the last decade 554 journalists and 49 media workers have been killed. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi proved that even a high profile cannot protect a journalist. We need to press for answers and justice for journalists murdered around the world.”
# # #
For more information or to arrange an interview: