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Home > SPJ News > Press Freedom groups resolve to rally around World Press Freedom Day and uphold their role as watchdogs in the 2020 U.S. election

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Press Freedom groups resolve to rally around World Press Freedom Day and uphold their role as watchdogs in the 2020 U.S. election


5/2/2019


CONTACT:
J. Alex Tarquinio, SPJ National President, 212-283-0843, atarquinio@spj.org
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Director of Communications and Marketing, 317-361-4134, jroyer@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists and 13 other journalism and open government groups are showing their support for World Press Freedom Day with a resolution to advocate to uphold the democratic process in the upcoming 2020 United States electoral campaign and recommit themselves to the role of watchdog to guard against misinformation.

The groups worked on the resolution during the second day of last weekend’s media summit celebrating World Press Freedom Day, an event that the Society of Professional Journalists produced in New York called “Quo Vadis Democracy in an Age of Disinformation?” All in all, more than 30 media nonprofits were represented over the course of the weekend, with many of the delegates at the level of executive director, deputy director or president.

“The resolution is much more than a document,” said J. Alex Tarquinio, SPJ national president. “It is a reminder of the commitment we have as journalism and open government groups to protect and advocate for truth and the free flow of information to the public during this election season and beyond.

“The details that some of the panelists shared about the potential threats to elections from online disinformation are downright scary and should put journalists and the public on high alert,” Tarquinio added.

Those signing the resolution are: James W. Foley Legacy Foundation; Journalism & Women Symposium; National Association of Hispanic Journalists; National Press Photographers Association; National Society of Newspaper Columnists; Open the Government; PEN America; Public Radio News Directors Incorporated; Radio Television Digital News Association; Reporters Without Borders; Society of Environmental Journalists; Society for Features Journalism; Society of Professional Journalists and Tully Center for Free Speech at Syracuse University.

The summit began with a keynote conversation between Maria Ressa, co-founder and CEO of Rappler.com, and Christophe Deloire, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders/Reporters Sans Frontičres (RSF). The program included several experts on digital threats to elections, how disinformation is used to paint the press as the enemy, and weaponizing cyberspace in the 2020 campaign.

Ricardo de Guimarăes Pinto, liaison officer of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), welcomed the delegates to the summit, the first that SPJ has hosted to celebrate World Press Freedom Day, which is a UNESCO program. “UNESCO is the UN agency responsible for press freedom, the safety of journalists, and freedom of expression,” he explained to the audience.

World Press Freedom Day is celebrated each year on May 3 with events throughout the world leading up to and on this date. This annual celebration of the fundamental principles of press freedom was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 in response to a call by African journalists, who in 1991 announced the Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence. This year’s World Press Freedom Day theme is “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.”

This free, two-day event was made possible by a generous gift from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, with additional support from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY and Rooney Partners.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund, or give to the SPJ Foundation.

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