On This World Press Freedom Day – Friday, May 3rd, 2019

Any Time one of our  Politicial Leader will Praise the Role of a Press in a Democracy, this Journalist will Take It

It sure beats all of the jabs about “Fake News” and journalists being “scum” and “enemies of the people”

A Brief One from Doug Draper

Posted this May 3rd, World Press Freedom Day on Niagara At Large

Even after all of the criticism that Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau  has taken in recent months over his Liberal Party’s dealings with SNC-Lavalin, a giant, Quebec-based engineering firm, and the throwing of two high-profile members out of the party’s caucus, he released a statement for Word Press Freedom Day this May 3rd, , praising the important role of the press plays in a democracy.

I’ve taken some  swipes of my own in news commentaries over what I consider Trudeau’s checkered record on addressing climate change and other environmental issues, but it is good to know that here are at least some politicians who are willing to see beyond themselves and appreciate the larger role institutions like the media have to play in keeping a society free and open and informed.

Certainly, nothing so selfless or generous or respectful  of the news media as an institution or any kind of pillar of democracy has come from the likes of Donald Trump who makes a daily practice out of calling journalists “disgusting” or “absolute scum” or “enemies of the people” trading in “fake news.”

Journalists on the Ontario side of the border have been targets of lighter shades of Trump-like missives from the likes of Doug Ford, and from a number of those who sat on Niagara’s regional council during the past four years when Al Caslin was running the show, although most of the regional councillors who participated in that sort of blood sport either did not run again or were defeated in last October’s municipal elections.

So the statement Canada’s prime minister has issues on this World Press Freedom Day is appreciated by far more news journalists than this one, I am sure, and here it is, for the record –

Statement by the Prime Minister on World Press Freedom Day

May 3, 2019

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Ottawa, Ontario The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement onWorld Press Freedom Day: “Today, we celebrate the important role journalists play around the world.We also take a hard look at the current state of press freedom, and remember those who have died in pursuit of the truth.

“The theme of this year’s [World Press FreedomDay](https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/worldpressfreedomday) is ‘Mediafor democracy: Journalism and elections in times of disinformation.’Journalists today face grave and growing challenges in their work to providethe public with reliable and quality information. 

“The digital age has made sharing information easier than ever before. Butit has also given way to online spaces that peddle disinformation and reduce complex issues into oversimplified, toxic us-versus-them narratives. 

“Journalists increasingly find themselves competing in these online spaces against malicious foreign agents and opinion makers who would rather manipulate people and foment division than inform the public and create acommon set of facts. 

“Independent, fact-based reporting is vital. Few professions have the power– and responsibility – to enrich conversations, open people to new ideas and perspectives, and widen the lens on the challenges we face. 

“By introducing measures to support Canadian journalism and provide better internet access to under served communities, the Government of Canada is taking steps to make sure Canadians have access to reliable and trustworthy news sources. The government is also working to increase transparency during the election process. Recent changes to the Canada Elections Act will give Canadians additional tools to know who is trying to influence their vote. 

“On the international stage, Canada continues to advocate for independent media and strong democracies, and is taking steps to combat threats intended to undermine them. Last November, inspired by the findings and principles ofthe [International Information and Democracy Commission](https://rsf.org/en/news/democratic-leaders-give-historic-commitment-based-declaration-information-and-democracy),we joined 11 other countries to take urgent action against threats to freedom of expression and a free press. 

“This summer, Canada and the United Kingdom will also co-host a media freedom conference in London to find ways to combat disinformation and support and defend media against censorship, imprisonment, personal attacks,and abuse. It is unacceptable that journalists face these threats, and more,for doing their job and standing up for their fellow citizens.   

“On behalf of Canadians, I thank all journalists in this country and around the world who reveal injustices and give us the facts to think more freely and critically about the world around us.”

A sad day in the history of newspapers in this area of the world. The last edition of a newspaper read on both sides of the border, The Buffalo Courier Express says goodbye in 1982 – one of the earlier casualties in an era where the printed word has taken a back seat to other media. Don’t let it happen again. Support newspapers

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.

 A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at http://www.niagaraatlarge.com .

“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

2 responses to “On This World Press Freedom Day – Friday, May 3rd, 2019

  1. Even as a lay person, I am acutely aware of the words I choose, the thoughts I express and how the fragile egos in and around my city can make my life a living hell. When those pulling the strings in your community are not necessarily elected officials, or their influence is far reaching, there is an unhealthy but generally accepted tendency to lay back on one’s heels where the expression of one’s thoughts are concerned out of a very real fear of retribution. And those fears are not imagined. I have been threatened to my face, by phone and on social media by players whom you’d think would have skin tough enough to take a pass on pretty much anything I have to say. (Others who are politically engaged in my city have taken similar hits.) That my words warranted not-so-veiled threats strongly suggests my comments were closer to the truth than even I had imagined. Those threats proved that not only were my opinions accurate but more importantly, I was powerful and influential!! But to what end? Could I be more powerful and influential than those who threatened me? Not by a long shot and that is why I tip my hat to the journalists who, every single day, lay their personal security on the line to keep us informed. Whether we, lay people or journalists, express truth or measured opinion, both should be protected under Freedom of Speech. Sadly and frighteningly, for individuals and for democracy, neither are.


  2. Gary Screaton Page

    Happy Press Day, Doug. Keep up the excellent work that you do. No “fake news” here: just the facts. Thanks for your reporting.


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