The Director of UNESCO in Addis Ababa, Dr. Yumiko Yokozeki made the remark today at 31th World Press Freedom Day, marked under the theme “Journalism in the Digital World.”
She said during the occasion that the World Press Freedom Day is a celebration that acts as a reminder to member states and “all of us on the need to respect our commitment to press freedom.”
The Director added that it is also a day of reflection among media professionals about the issue of press freedom and professional ethics and urged the need to increase effort to intensify cooperation.
“UNESCO would like to continue work with the media and journalists to enhance media professionalism, and also serve the public through providing accurate and balanced information. And also to ensure that information and journalism remain public good, we must also work together to protect the rights of journalism and media professionals to work freely and safely,” she elaborated.
Since 1991, the information landscape has undergone enormous changes especially with the advent of the internet and social media.
While these technologies allow accessing more news than ever before, they also exposed many to misinformation and disinformation as well as hate speech.
“I convinced that through joint effort we can together overcome challenges, ensure future in which information remain a public good to the benefit of all people,” she added.
The director emphasize the key role of media as a catalyst for the global aspiration and commitment toward sustainable development goals as expressed in Agenda 2030 as well as AU’s agenda 2063.
The Deputy Director General of the Ethiopian Media Authority, Gizaw Tesfaye said that since the reform started in the country, the government has made policy reforms to ensure that the information is accessible.
In this regard, media professional associations have been expanded and the authority will discharge its responsibility to ensure that citizens have access to accurate information.
“If the information disseminated through the digital media is false and not guided by professional ethics, it will inevitably have a negative impact on peace and democracy building of the country, ” he said.
Chairman of the Ethiopian Media Council, Amare Aregawi on his part said journalists should conduct their work in an ethical manner without compromising media freedom.
He added that digital media has been expanding rapidly and the sector should be used in a way that benefits the country and sustain the unity of the people.
“We won’t blame all the media outlets for there are media institutions that are working properly. But there are many digital media that are engaged in exacerbating ethnic and religious based conflicts as well as political disputes by echoing the issues in a wrong way. There are digital media outlets in our country that are creating hostilities among the various religious and ethnic groups.”
Journalists who participated in the event on their part said journalists should strive to provide accurate information to the public and those who spread abusive content on social media with their own agendas should be held accountable and they should refrain from doing so.
Representative from the Ethiopian Media Authority, senior journalists and media owners participated in the program.