Targeting journalists takes a toll on 'societies as a whole' – UN chief

When journalists are targeted, “societies as a whole pay a price" said Guterres for the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

When journalists are targeted, “societies as a whole pay a price”, the UN chief said on Monday, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

“If we do not protect journalists, our ability to remain informed and make evidence-based decisions is severely hampered”, Secretary-General António Guterres spelled out in his message for the day.  

And when they cannot safely do their jobs, “we lose an important defense against the pandemic of misinformation and disinformation that has spread online”, he added.

There were at least 21 attacks on journalists covering protests in the first half of 2020 – equal to the number of such attacks in the whole of 2017, Mr. Guterres said.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted new perils for journalists and media workers, the UN chief reiterated his call for a “free press that can play its essential role in peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights”.

“Fact-based news and analysis depend on the protection and safety of journalists conducting independent reporting, rooted in the fundamental tenet: ‘journalism without fear or favour’”, he concluded.

In her message, Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), maintained that through accurate reporting, journalists “bring truth to light”.

However, she noted that for too many “telling the truth comes at a price”.

While journalists are in “a unique and compelling position” to “speak truth to power”, the UNESCO chief observed that the two “do not always see eye to eye”.

Between 2010 and 2019, close to 900 journalists were killed while doing their job, according Ms. Azoulay – more than 150 in the last two years alone. 

UN entities involved in this initiative
UN
United Nations
UNESCO
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization