2 photos: left is a female photo journalist amidst riot police, right a male journalist in a recording studio wearing a face mask.
Journalists in the line of duty.
Photo:left - UNESCO/©Thomas Hawk; right - UN Photo/Evan Schneider.

2021 Theme: Information as a Public Good

This year’s World Press Freedom Day theme “Information as a Public Good” serves as a call to affirm the importance of cherishing information as a public good, and exploring what can be done in the production, distribution and reception of content to strengthen journalism, and to advance transparency and empowerment while leaving no one behind. The theme is of urgent relevance to all countries across the world. It recognizes the changing communications system that is impacting on our health, our human rights, democracies and sustainable development.

To underline the importance of information within our online media environment, World Press Freedom Day 2021 will highlight three key topics:

  • Steps to ensure the economic viability of news media;
  • Mechanisms for ensuring transparency of Internet companies; 
  • Enhanced Media and Information Literacy (MIL) capacities that enable people to recognize and value, as well as defend and demand, journalism as a vital part of information as a public good.

Download the concept note

World Press Freedom Day 2021 Global Conference 

Organized annually since 1993, the Global Conference provides an opportunity to journalists, civil society representatives, national authorities, academics and the broader public to discuss emerging challenges to press freedom and journalists’ safety, and to work together on identifying solutions.

 

The 2021 Global Conference is hosted by UNESCO and the Government of Namibia. It will take place on 29 April - 3 May in Windhoek. The event will be a physical and digital experience combining virtual and in-presence participation. Register now to be part of the regional forums, side events, keynotes, artistic showcases, films screenings and more! Join media leaders, activists, policymakers, media and legal experts, artists and researchers from all over the world.

The Conference will call for urgent attention to the threat of extinction faced by local news media around the world, a crisis worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. It will put forward ideas to tackle the challenges of our online media environment, push for more transparency of internet companies, strengthen safety of journalists, and improve their working conditions. The Conference will also call to support independent media and empower citizens to face these challenges.

Origin and Purpose

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO's General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.

After 30 years, the historic connection made between the freedom to seek, impart and receive information and the public good remains as relevant as it was at the time of its signing. Special commemorations of the 30th anniversary are planned to take place during World Press Freedom Day International Conference.

May 3 acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. It is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. It is an opportunity to:

  • celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;
  • assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;
  • defend the media from attacks on their independence;
  • and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

How to stop misinformation in times of coronavirus?

Learn how to identify unverified content you receive on your cell phone and avoid spreading information on social media that has not been checked by credible sources. Caring for reliable information is everyone's responsibility, and helps us make better decisions.

COVID-19: How do we prevent the pandemic becoming a media extinction event?

28 April 2021, 10.00-11.15 a.m. New York time

Over the past year it has become evident that efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic have been undermined by a concurrent global “infodemic.” It has also become clear that public interest media have become more needed and yet more threatened than ever.

The event is organized by the United Nations Department of Global Communications in cooperation with the philanthropic organization Luminate. The panel will discuss the roles of public interest media, technology platforms and global institutions such as the UN, one year into the infodemic. It will delve into what actions should be taken to strengthen our responses and ensure that trusted, impartial information is accessible to all.

Join the event or submit questions for the panelists ahead of the event at bit.ly/3gpcQa1

Other Events

Regional Forums

This year, the Conference is connecting with the regional World Press Freedom Day celebrations, hosting six Regional Forums to focus on local aspects of press freedom and explore the current trends and challenges. The Forums build upon the historic series of regional seminars triggered by the 1991 seminar in Windhoek, which inspired regional declarations to promote a free, independent, and pluralistic press, after similar seminars held in Alma-Ata (1992), Santiago (1994), Sana’a (1996), and Sofia (1997).

Academic Conference and Youth Newsroom

UNESCO and the University of Namibia (UNAM) are hosting the sixth edition of the Academic Conference on the Safety of Journalists. The Youth Newsroom 2021 edition is being held in partnership with the Namibia University of Science and Technology. Participants will cover the conference mostly virtually and will be able to attend guest speakers’ lectures.

Celebrations around the world

UNESCO and partners will organize celebrations around the world. Register your event in order to feature it in UNESCO's map of celebrations.

hands holding book and journalist with gas mask

As the United Nations agency with a specific mandate to promote “the free flow of ideas by word and image”, UNESCO works to foster free, independent and pluralistic media in print, broadcast and online. Media development in this mode enhances freedom of expression, and it contributes to peace, sustainability, poverty eradication and human rights

Photos of Guillermo Cano Isaza and Jineth Bedoya Lima.

Investigative journalist and media executive Maria Ressa of the Philippines has been named as the 2021 laureate of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The award ceremony will take place at the World Press Freedom Day Global Conference. Created in 1997, the annual Prize honours a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially when achieved in the face of danger.

 

A crowd of women sitting and laughing

International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.