What is press freedom and why does it matter?
Every May 3, the world celebrates press freedom. The celebration is important for a country like the Philippines, where journalists and media organizations continue to be on the receiving end of various forms of attacks, online harassment, and red-tagging.
Now ranking 138th out of 180 nations, the country recently dropped two more places in the Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) World Press Freedom Index.
Among those who were red-tagged by the government is Frenchie Mae Cumpio, a Tacloban journalist who remains jailed after more than a year. She was arrested at the Eastern Vista staff house during a series of raids on what the military claimed were “identified Commmunist Terrorist Group safe houses.” From 2018 up to her arrest in 2020, she reported on a wide variety of human rights issues, such as the killings of farmers in Northern Samar.
Advocates have said this in various ways and forms: Freedom of the press is fundamental to a democracy. Without it, all other freedoms are diminished.
You can support journalists and media organizations by learning more about the fight for press freedom and by expressing your support. Here are a few ways to do so:
Media organizations are among the top casualties of the attention economy that social media platforms have spurred. So, one of the easiest ways to support press freedom is to actively follow, read, and share from independent media sources in the Philippines.
On social media, you can show your support for Filipino journalists by posting your views with the hashtag #DefendPressFreedom.
You can also participate in the campaigns organized by groups like the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines. NUJP is among the organizations at the forefront of defending press freedom in the country. They have a series of programs and campaigns aimed at supporting journalists who are being red-tagged or harassed, and who are affected by the pandemic.
One way to fight for press freedom is to understand what journalists and media organizations have to go through to defend it. You can watch the award-winning documentary about Rappler and the fight for press freedom in the country – A Thousand Cuts by Filipino-American filmmaker Ramona Diaz – which is now accessible for free in the Philippines.
We believe in the power of small ripples to start a movement. You can organize an online watch party of A Thousand Cuts, starting within your network of friends and family. All you need to do is set a date, establish your Zoom meeting, and invite your network. Let us know if you’re organizing a watch party in your area so we can support and amplify your event!
After the watch party, we advise that you schedule a debriefing session with your network so you can discuss and reflect on the significance of press freedom on your own rights as an individual.
Lies, disinformation, and propaganda are among the top things journalists have to fight on a daily basis. You can support press freedom by learning how to fact-check.
Rappler is one of the many fact-checking organizations verified by the International Fact-Checking Network-Poynter. As part of our program, we continuously hold webinars to train individuals on the methodology and basics of fact-checking.
It is no secret that news organizations are challenged to remain sustainable in an industry besieged by declining revenues. Rappler launched its membership program in 2018 as a way of innovating its business model and going back to its community of supporters. Learn more about Rappler+ here. – Rappler.com