The 2014 theme for World Press Freedom Day is “Media Freedom for a Better Future”.
The focus this year is on three inter-related themes
– the media’s importance in development
– the safety of journalists and the rule of law
– sustainability and integrity of journalism
More awareness on issues like the Millennium Development Goals are needed in Singapore. The media can play a big role in highlighting issues relating to human rights & development. Freedom of our media is an essential pillar of governance, as it enables as many citizens as possible to contribute to, as well as monitor and implement, public decisions on development.
In ASEAN, the safety of journalists remains a problem. The lack of the rule of law in some areas, mean that journalists face the threat of reprisals, especially when conducting investigative journalism. In 2014 till date, UNESCO has already documented 29 journalists who were assassinated throughout the world, including Rubylita Garcia in the Philippines, and Suon Chan in Cambodia.
Financial sustainability of media & press organisations remain an issue in Singapore, especially for online and community media. Different models are being explored, and while some are innovative, care must be taken to ensure that the journalists remain professional. The lines between editorial content and advertising are blurring. MARUAH hopes that a frank exchange of ideas and approaches will help bring improvements in this area.
Finally, MARUAH hopes that in Singapore, we will have a Freedom of Information Act soon.