2012 World Press Freedom Day: New Media tools as Change Agents
Submitted by Idris Mabadeje on Fri, 04/05/2012 - 11:41am
Press freedom is a logical extension of man’s inalienable right to freedom of expression. As such, it is a universal phenomenon which is guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which says, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” This right is equally guaranteed in the constitution of most nations ...view middle of the document...
Although degree of press freedom differs from country to country, it is instructive to note that new media tools made available by developments in Information Communication Technology, especially Social Media Networks, have taken media freedom to hitherto unimaginable heights. It is amazing how this new found media freedom is causing unimaginable transformation in societies.
The unintended but inherent power of these new media tools to cause far reaching changes, even change in political order, is why the theme for the 2012 World Press Freedom Day Celebration, New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies, is very apt. It is unarguable that the freedom to harness the power of information and communication technologies, especially the social media played a significant role in the changes that have taken place in many Arab nations today.
This awesome power of the new media to publish without restraint readily brings to mind the advocacy of proponents of Libertarian theory of the press. To the libertarian, the press is not an instrument of government, but rather a device for presenting evidence and arguments on the basis of which the people can check on government and make up their minds as to policy. Therefore, it is imperative that the press be free from government control and influence. In order for truth to emerge, all ideas must get a fair hearing; there must be a “free market place” of ideas and information. Minorities as well as majorities, the weak as well as the strong must have access to the press…
Although, proponents of the libertarian theory may never have imagined anything like the social media, today’s social media networks best represent, to a great extent, what they had in mind, especially in terms of freedom to publish with little or no inhibitions.
The freedom to publish online with little or no inhibitions notwithstanding, it is equally becoming dangerous for online journalists, as it is for those in the traditional media, to carry on their trade without fear of harassments, attacks and...