World Press Freedom Day: Ensuring the value of PR in a post-truth era

World Press Freedom Day: Ensuring the value of PR in a post-truth era

Each year on 3 May we celebrate the fundamental principle of press freedom, defending the media from attacks on its independence and paying tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

The theme for UNESCO World Press Freedom Day 2017 is Critical Minds for Critical Times and looks at ‘the media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies’.

Back in October, we worked with Amnesty International and had the honour of promoting and attending its 25th annual Media Awards. The awards recognise excellence in human rights reporting and journalism’s contribution to the public’s awareness of human rights issues.

It was amazing to hear from the inspiring award winners and to see the stories that represented the best of the best in human rights reporting. We also heard about the risks journalists face every day, and the story of Shawkan, the journalist who has been in prison for over three years and whose only ‘crime’ was to take photos of a peaceful, public demonstration in Egypt.

This year, in the ‘post-truth’ era of fake news, when the media is undermined by leaders of major global powers, and MPs debate Rupert Murdoch’s Sky takeover bid, the threat to and importance of a free and objective media is, arguably, stronger than ever.

It all raises some interesting questions for those working in PR. After all, what good does it do to secure earned coverage for our clients, when trust in the media, and in charities for that matter, is at such a low?

It’s down to us to celebrate and protect press freedom. As PR professionals, let’s use today not only as a reminder of the importance of an independent media, but also of our responsibility to check and recheck our facts and make sure we’re building valuable stories by working with reputable journalists that we trust.