May 3…

Two months from tomorrow, I’ll turn 20. But that’s not the real reason why tomorrow, May 3 is important.

It’s the 22nd celebration of World Press Freedom Day.  The themes this year set out by UNESCO include the following:

  • “The need for ‘quality journalism’-reporting that is accurate and independent, remains a constant concern in a media landscape that is changing due to technological and commercial developments.”
  • Gender imbalance continues in the media 20 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Change. All too few women journalists are able to reach decision-making positions in the media.
  • The third theme is digital safety, a topic of growing concern because digital communications makes it difficult for journalists to protect themselves and their sources.”

As one of my professors likes to say, “Hold the phone.” These topics are vital conversations to the state of journalism. But what also needs to be examined–and changed– is the kind of environment the aforementioned themes can really permeate the industry.

Freedom of the press declined in 2015 according to a report made by Freedom House, highlighting a more recent worldwide trend. Even in the United States of America, we’ve seen the current administration intensely crack down on journalists.

Colombian newspaper El Tiempo put out an interactive map showing the deaths of journalists there over the last 37 years in the country.

They highlight the fact that of the 143 killings, only 3 people have been condemned because of it. That’s a .02 percent success rate. So you can say the Colombian justice system is a little bit out of whack.

I’ll highlight one case of the 140 that have gone unpunished.

Guillermo Cano was editor of El Especatdor, a paper that openly pointed to the drug cartels as one of the many reasons for the social and political disarray the country experienced in the 80s.

He was killed by two hitmen as he left the office on  December 17, 1986. Three years later, the leading drug cartels blasted the newspaper to pieces.

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