On World Press Freedom Day, we heard and read much about a free press and freedom of speech being strong and necessary pillars of democracy. We also heard distressing statistics about death and harm to journalists, and about repressive legislation and arbitrary detention that makes it difficult for journalists do to their jobs. These are important messages, and they are causes that deserve our attention and action.
But we should also hear about the new generation of journalists and activists who are using freedom of speech to bring positive change to our world.
Youth, including Commonwealth Correspondents, use websites, blogs like YourCommonwealth.org, Facebook, and a dizzy range of social media to share lively concern about a wide range of issues.
The media in all its platforms provides a forum for thoughtful response to current events across the globe. Because of modern media, youth around the world can share experiences, build community, and learn from each other.
Sadly, we have seen examples of media suppression through closing of broadcast or print media houses, or removal of internet access. This has devastating effect on journalists and on the communities they serve. Loss of media means youth are isolated, hampered in education and economically stalled.
Youth have embraced communication technology. They have pushed websites, blogs, podcasts and social media to become important places to explore their ideas for peace and development, to talk about human rights, or to advocate for the environment. They use the media to write openly about their concerns over lingering inequality, and about their deep importance of education and health care. The media is also a place to express the joyful side of life, from cultural festivals and student experiences to the celebration of community and the importance of a smile. Youth use the media to stretch their minds as they find their voices, speaking for themselves and for their communities. They become writers, graduate students, and community activists. They are change agents for those who are marginalised or under-resourced.
Seeking truth, justice, and accountability, these emerging journalists and community leaders use the media to share ideas, explore diversity, hold current events to light, and promote Commonwealth values. World Press Freedom is important to them, and to society.
Pat Perkel, Editor, YourCommonwealth.org
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