(Storm Coming, Puerto de las Nieves, Canary Islands, Spain)
On November 22nd, a date which marked my 10th anniversary of consulting full-time about new-media to traditional media companies, after a speech at the Spanish Daily Newspaper Association’s annual meeting, I took the liberty of staying in Spain for the rest of the year as an extended vacation in that country’s Canary Islands. Forgive me, but this long vacation was long in coming.
I’m back at work now, and want to start 2007 with a suggestion to news websites:
If our new media is to succeed traditional printed and broadcast media, then it also must assume traditional media’s responsibilities about press freedom around the world. The world is now in its second ten years of mass use of new media, and I think the time has now come for new-media journalists and editors to begin assuming the mantle of world press freedom in general.
In 1993, the United Nations declared every May 3rd to be World Press Freedom Day, a day to pay tribute to the journalists around the world who risk their lives by professional choice, in their effort to promote the free flow of information and assertion of press freedom on behalf of all members of society. World Press Freedom day also is commemorated by organizations such as Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Inter American Press Association, International Federation of Journalists, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, International Press Institute, Media Institute of Southern Africa, and the World Association of Newspapers (WAN).
WAN, for example, supplies newspapers with press freedom case study stories, public service advertisements, and even videos, to publish on May 3rds. According to WAN, as of November at least 109 journalists had been killed during 2006 and many more have been imprisoned. WAN is even holding a conference about ‘New Media: The Press Freedom Dimension’ in Paris on 15-16 February 2007.
On May 3rd, 2007, I think news websites should each devote a story and at least one home page banner ad (even if in rotation) to World Press Freedom. If newspapers can promote it, why can’t our sites? Heaven knows, we should be able to do even better than traditional media. And our commitment is only one story and one banner ad on one day a year. Wouldn’t it be great to see nytimes.com, washingtonpost.com, guardian.co.uk, dw-world.de, oglobo.com.br, and smaller sites reminding what journalists risk on users’ behalf.
As a publishing consultant and former journalist, I’m asking my clients to promote World Press Freedom Day online.