Why does journalism matter today? How do journalists continue their fight for press freedom despite the attacks and harassment?
The theme for this year’s World Press Freedom Day, held every May 3, was “Information as a Public Good.” It was an affirmation of the importance of information in the age of disinformation and within a damaged information ecosystem.
In the Philippines, press freedom suffered a hit during the coronavirus pandemic. The country dropped two places this year in the Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) World Press Freedom Index, with the report citing the continued attacks of President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration on the media, online harassment, and the red-tagging of journalists.
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO, the importance of freely accessing reliable information, particularly through journalism, has been demonstrated by the pandemic. Journalists and fact-checkers have critically monitored contradicting statements and falsehoods to provide the public the vital information they need. (READ: ‘Journalism is a profession worth taking risks for’)
As such, the media plays a critical role in combating disinformation, and they need help from communities to counter efforts that drown out facts and divert public attention from important issues.
News organizations like Rappler have repeatedly emphasized the importance of fact-checking as a community effort to prevent the further spread of lies in the digital space, especially as the country gears up for the upcoming 2022 Philippine elections in the middle of a pandemic.
To commemorate World Press Freedom Day 2021, we take a step back to ask journalists and fact-checkers: How is journalism particularly important in times of elections and public health crises? How is journalism vital in the fight against hate speech and in efforts to debunk disinformation? Having been involved in initiatives to stop the spread of disinformation, is fact-checking enough to stop lies and propaganda?
To answer these questions and more, MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm, will host MovePH’s webinar: Why journalism matters today, on Friday, May 28, at 4 pm (Manila time).
There will be a panel discussion with Rappler’s head of Digital Strategy Gemma Bagayaua-Mendoza, Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist John Nery, and University of the Philippines Diliman-Department of Journalism associate professor Ma. Diosa Labiste. This will be moderated by Rappler+ program lead Happy Feraren.
This discussion is a special session of MovePH’s webinar series promoting media and information literacy and fact-checking. This is also part of the lineup of activities for the entire month of May to commemorate the importance of press freedom led by Rappler+, our membership program. (READ: Join Rappler+ and help #DefendPressFreedom)
The webinar is free but slots are limited. You may register here. – Rappler.com