Mark World Press Freedom Day
May 3 marks World Press Freedom Day, a UN-declared day to raise awareness about the importance of freedom of the press, and to remind governments to uphold the right to freedom of expression.
This has been a commemorative day since 1948, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights protected freedom of expression under Article 19. On this day every year, a prize is awarded to the individual, organization, or institution that “has made an outstanding contribution to the defense and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially in the face of danger.”
Clearly, some countries have been better than others at upholding freedom of expression and, it also turns out, freedom of the press. Some of the rankings might surprise you. According to Reporters Without Borders, Canada ranks 18 out of 180 in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index. We’ve got work to do.
Here are 4 films that look at different aspects of journalism and the press.
Freelancer on the Front Lines
In honour of the occasion, this new release will be streaming for free for 3 days only. I highly recommend you take the opportunity to watch it. Jesse Rosenfeld is a Canadian freelance reporter whose main beat is the Middle East. The film follows him across the region while exploring how journalism practices have changed in the age of the Internet.
Enjoy a podcast where Jesse Rosenfeld and Jesse Freeston discuss the dangers and thrills of reporting from the Middle East.
We’re just going to jump right in with this short from 1945 which shows how journalists relayed war news back to Canada from the front. It’s a “tribute to all those people who against the hazards of war never failed to bring Canada the news.” And let me tell you, these people were incredible. It’s sobering to see the images of reporters typing up their stories out in the field – literally – while guns and bombs go off within spitting distance.
History on the Run: The Media and the ’79 Election
This film takes a fascinating look at 4 journalists who followed the 3 main parties running in the 1979 election, led by Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Joe Clark, and Ed Broadbent. The relationship between politicians and the press is complicated, each has their own angle and something to gain… and something to lose. This film does a great job of examining the roles and responsibilities the Canadian media has during an election.
Get to know two of Montreal’s most well-known political cartoonists, Aislin (Terry Mosher) of The Gazette, and Serge Chapleau of La Presse. The documentary was filmed right at the start of the second Iraq war, and the cartoons each artist produced for that occasion only serve to underline the importance of freedom of speech. As we all know, in more recent years political cartoonists and satirists have been killed because of their work, or at least other peoples’ perceptions of it. It makes you see these two men in a whole new light.