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'Democracy impossible without press
?Democracy impossible without press freedom?
The Times of India (New Delhi)
May 3, 2001
PARIS: In a special initiative to mark the 10th World Press Freedom Day
on 3 May, the World Association of Newspapers has asked world leaders:
?What does press freedom mean to you?? The Pope replied. So did the
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
and many other leaders form all over the planet. Their responses are
included in a package of editorial and advertising materials that
newspapers are being encouraged to publish on World Press Freedom Day.
The package is now available for downloading form the WAN web site at
www.wanpress.org/3may/ and will soon be mailed to thousands of
newspapers worldwide. WAN is encouraging newspapers to commemorate 3 May
by publishing these materials. Pope John Paul II said: ?The Church
recognizes the need for freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
Rights imply corresponding duties. The proper exercise of the right to
information demands that the content of what is communicated by true
and - within the limits set by justice and charity ? complete.?
Prime Minister Blair, responded: ?A free press will sometimes make
uncomfortable reading for any politician. But any passing embarrassment
or justified indignation must never blind us to its vital role in both
the health and protection of democracy.?
And Germany Chancellor Schroeder said: ?Democracy is impossible without
freedom of the press. Complex controversies cannot be solved without
freedom of the press, as questions must be aired.? World Press Freedom
Day exists to recognise the sacrifices made in the struggle for freedom
of the press and to put pressure on numerous governments that continue
to deny their citizens this basic human right. Each year, WAN and the
World Editors Forum collect and distribute essays, photos, statistics
and graphics for publication in newspapers world-wide to help raise
awareness of the issues.
The 2001 package will include an essay on press freedom developments
during past decade and on perspectives for the future. WAN and the WEF
are also providing info-graphics on jailed journalists, on murders and
on other press freedom attacks, and advertisements highlighting press
freedom. The package will also include teaching materials and classroom
exercises to help children understand how freedom of expression ?or the
lack of it ?affects their lives. The materials are intended for use in
Newspapers in Education programmes, and newspapers are encouraged to
distribute them to local schools.
World Press Freedom Day marks the anniversary of the Declaration of
Windhoek, a statement of principles drawn up by African journalists
calling for a free, independent and pluralistic media on that continent
and throughout the world. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the
Declaration, which affirms that a free press is essential to the
existence of democracy and a fundamental human goal.