Message from the IPRA President: Freedom fighters June 2023
3 months, 4 weeks ago
Hello, dear PR enthusiasts from all over the world. This is my sixth message to you, and it is the halfway point of my term as IPRA President 2023. Let me recap briefly: I was invited to do several video and written messages for PR events in Azerbaijan, Iran, the Philippines, the USA and Zambia, and I did a podcast for Australia. It was a great honour and privilege to be present globally. Thank you very much for these invitations. The motto of my IPRA presidential year is “share & care”. In my messages at these events, I point out the importance of our role as communicators to do everything we can to address climate change – in our companies, for our clients and on a personal level. We need each and every one of us and our communities to do our very best to prevent climate change. We owe it to future generations.
Press freedom remains an issue
I am proud to be President of IPRA – the worldwide organisation for PR that promotes trust and ethics in global communications. It is not unrelated that IPRA helped to establish the third of May as World Press Freedom Day 30 years ago. Take a look at the the World Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders here and check where your country stands. It is truly alarming that only eight countries in the world are marked as green, and all of them are in Europe. In 31 countries the situation for journalists is “very serious”, in 42 “difficult”, in 55 “problematic” and in 52 countries “good” or “satisfactory”. World Press Freedom Day reminds governments to honour their commitment to press freedom. It reminds journalists to reflect on their professional ethics and commemorates those who have lost their lives pursuing a story. IPRA helped to create this day. Read the full story here.
Why is freedom of the press so important? It ensures that people receive truthful information that is neither manipulated nor misused by individuals, corporations or interest groups. Journalists describe issues from different angles and contribute to a diverse information landscape that provides a basis for discussion, exchange and a balanced view. The press also acts as a fourth estate in the public arena, as a check on the other estates, now characterised by the legislative, executive and judicial branches of state power. There remain many threats to free media such as propaganda, fake content, unregulated AI, intolerance to criticism, and hostility – to name but a few.
Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. As communicators leading ethics in PR in a global organisation we are acutely aware of the importance of the freedom of press. More than ever, we need to do everything in our power to ensure that journalists may do their job in a safe and respected way. An independent press is the foundation of democracy and the gateway to opposing fake news.
How can we support press freedom?
Vote in elections, support democratic movements, check facts. Look for the source, root out false information, and educate people of all ages on how to fight fake news. We here at INEOS in Cologne are part of the Business Council for Democracy here and offer trainings for our employees on how to recognise fake news and conspiracy stories, and how to take action against hate speech, especially in the digital and personal sphere. For me, democracy has no alternative and is non-negotiable. Democracy has to be learned and requires the resolute participation of everyone of us.
And now the GWA
As June starts, I look forward to being a judge at the IPRA Golden World Awards 2023 selecting the finalists online. And next month I will be meeting in person with my fellow judges from all over the world in London, to select the winners. As ever it is a treat to learn about the creativity of my peers.
Anne-Gret Iturriaga Abarzua PhD
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