We’re pretty lucky, not only as online marketers who are “plugged in” daily, working with new media and technology, which allows us to interact with people all over the world and receive up to date news; but also, just as people living in the U.S., who have the freedom of press. Because not everyone does.
The United States is proud to host the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Press Freedom Day Event, which has occurred as a series of events over the past few days in Washington D.C. UNESCO is the only UN agency with the mandate to promote the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press.
This year’s theme is 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. New media plays an important role in all of our daily lives and has changed the way we communicate with each other and the world. Philip J. Crowley, Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Public Affairs said it best in a press statement in December of 2010, “The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression.”
We saw the importance of this need for expression and communication through online and offline media in the recent Middle East protests. Social media played a major role in the organization of the protests in Tunisia and Egypt, while it also kept those across the world informed of what was occurring. The government saw the internet as such a threat that it shut down internet and phone access across the country. But that didn’t stop the revolution, it fueled it.
The internet has allowed the spread of information tenfold. People have more opportunities to share their reactions to events and news, their personal knowledge, or what they’re thinking at any given moment. Whether it be through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, or online news sites, information is being shared. We have the technology to interact with it every day. So let’s celebrate that!
But we also need to help fight for those who do not yet have the technology and the freedom of press that we do. Take a minute and think about what freedom of expression means to you. And let us know…