The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) and media organisations in the region will mark World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) with public awareness activities and discussions from Saturday, it was announced. Every year, May 3 is a date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
This year’s celebrations are happening in the context of coronavirus (Covid-19). The World Health Organisation (WHO) has denounced the “massive infodemic” of disinformation and misinformation swirling amidst the Covid-19 pandemic as a driver of the crisis itself. In the current context, dis- and misinformation represent a serious challenge in addressing a viral epidemic or other public health crisis. The outbreak of the pandemic has proven, once again, that press freedom is essential for our societies. In the framework of the WPFD global celebrations, media in the region are invited to join Unesco in a global online movement to draw the world's attention to these issues which are essential to the survival of our societies.
In Qatar, among other institutions, Al Jazeera Media Network department is launching awareness raising activities for journalists and the wider public to tackle disinformation in this time of crises and discuss the role of journalism in navigating the information disorder. Al Jazeera Media Institute celebrations will start Saturday with a webinar titled: “Types, sources, and consequences of Covid-19 misinformation in the Arab countries,” which will be live streamed on Al Jazeera Journalism Review Facebook page
This will be followed by launching of video and visual campaign marking WPFD. In addition, online training: “Debunking misinformation: The basic tools and techniques” will be held on May 6 on the e-learning platform
Anna Paolini, director, Unesco Regional Office in Doha and Unesco Representative in the Arab States of the Gulf and Yemen, will be discussing Sunday the role of journalism in time of Covid-19 pandemic through radio interviews with QBS Radio and Oryx Fm.
“We can collectively overcome this difficult times only if we work together, fostering an enabling environment of respect for diversity, mutual understanding and free flow of information for all. That's why we need professional journalists and media workers helping the society to counter information disorder, diffuse hate speech and support citizens and governments in the region in relying factual and verified information,” she said in a statement.
That is why in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Unesco and its network have made available a series of publications, tools, resources, MooC for all media workers, journalists, volunteers, students to support their daily work. All resources are available here.