The 2022 edition of World Press Freedom Day, this May 3, confirms the urgent need to have access to quality information, more than ever. As every year, UNESCO wishes to celebrate this date in order to contribute to raising the level of public debate.
“Journalism in the digital age was chosen as the theme for the 2022 edition of World Press Freedom Day. An international conference is being held throughout this week under the aegis of UNESCO in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay.
Experts and media players wish to compare their points of view on the future of the mass media in the digital age. It is futile to rehash that information technology has taken over our lives, all over the world. The phenomenon continues to grow thanks to technological advances, or because of them. These include the development of artificial intelligence, the generalization of algorithms by virtual platforms, computer hacking, monitoring by spyware and cyber-attacks.
The omnipotence of digital is such that we are unable to prevent and control its formidable perverse effects. Threats to a country’s political stability are no longer the stuff of fiction. The Russian government has mastered this art, having successfully experimented with it during presidential campaigns in the United States in 2016 and in France in 2017.
The war in Ukraine is a playground for cybercriminals in Moscow. Their objective is to intoxicate public opinion. Which turns out to be all the more malleable as the filters have become ineffective. In this case, the press, which has the greatest difficulty in continuing to disseminate quality information, that is to say verified and controllable.
Fake news continues to abound through so-called social networks. Moreover, these channels for disseminating hoaxes and eccentric theses are only social in name, as they are precisely powerful vectors of social fragmentation. We have experienced it during the pandemic. It was accompanied by a real parallel epidemic, that of false information, to use a phrase from the UN Secretary General.
At the start of the pandemic, in February 2020, Antonio Gutteres insisted on the need for a free press in order to counter fake news. Some have proven dangerous, putting lives at risk, as their consumers have given them undeserved credit.
From now on, on all the planet, the challenge launched to the means of information appears colossal. Technological progress undeniably favors understanding and exchanges between different peoples more than ever. Digitization abolishes time and distance, certainly. On the other hand, it creates new divisions, lasting oppositions and fuels citizens’ distrust of institutions. Everyone being free to comment on the facts, or even to invent them, confusion sets in and chaos becomes the social norm.
In this climate, the journalist’s mission turns out to be eminently complex. While his job is to testify lucidly and to report honestly on reality by disseminating quality information, he is now required to deny rumours. Even if it means putting the public on their backs and irritating the propagators of truncated information.
Regardless, the essential for the journalist is to be at the service of the governed, and not of the rulers. His job is not to relay the speeches of the powers. His duty is to ask questions and ask himself questions, at the risk of annoying or displeasing his audience.
Journalism is a conscientious profession, even more so in times of crisis, such as during the pandemic, and also in times of war, such as the one that threatens the entire planet.
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How can the press free itself from the grip of digital? – Martinique the 1st
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