Honoring our lost journalists in World Press Freedom Day
Yesterday on May 3 we observed the 'World Press Freedom Day'. This year the theme was 'Information as a Public Good'. It is especially significant for the press, which deals with information globally to effectively use and disseminate it to the world. It is a day to celebrate that the fourth estate is an epitome of democracy and impartiality. More to it, the day is also a reminder to the government that Press needs full freedom towards truth seeking. However, the current status of the fourth pillar has now turned precarious and space for practicing bold and ethical journalism is steadily shrinking.
But this grim reality should also be of concern to those who understand the critical importance of a free press in democracy. One should not forget that the very quality of a democracy can be gauged by the state of its press.
World Press Freedom Day is celebrated to ensure the protection and safety of the press in the face of attacks against its independence. This day is to commemorate the journalists who sacrificed their lives in pursuit of truth - in the pursuit of the loftiest of ideals, that of the truth, which holds the most powerful amongst us accountable and sets the most vulnerable amongst us free. However disappointingly, journalists' safety appears to be very low on the government's priority list. During the time of contagion, the front liners are risking their lives for the sake of truth.
While misinformation is so prevalent, getting right information is so hard, journalists are relentlessly working. According to the Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), at least 840 journalists died of Covid-19 in total 68 countries - from March, 2020 till February this year which is more than two per day on average.
Bangladesh ranks 6th in the world in terms of Coronavirus related deaths among journalists with 44 deaths. Our neighbouring county India is also witnessing alarming death counts among journalists and media workers since last month- some 3 to 5 journo are dying on average. However, we remember the journalists who lost their lives on the job and honour those fellow journalists who risked their lives in the time of a deadly pandemic.
Furthermore, this is the time when we should unite against the oppression of journalists and build a strong bond among ourselves to renew our commitment. Our strong stance is needed with the understanding that no successful democracy can exist without an active press that is both strong and free. Let our voices speak truth, only the "truth" and may all violence against media people be stopped soon.