The media has come under a lot of fire lately – literally and metaphorically. Press freedom around the world dropped last year to its lowest point in 13 years – not only in authoritarian states, but also in major democracies. US President Donald Trump has called some of our American counterparts “evil” and “dishonest”. Following Trump’s election and the UK vote to leave the European Union, many media outlets have been asking themselves whether they slipped into an elitist bubble.
But on World Press Freedom Day, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the fundamental role journalism can – and must – play in society.
My grandmother used to say no right will be lost so long as someone keeps fighting for it. We journalists see our role as fighting for universal rights on behalf of those who can’t. Journalism gives us the information we need to be engaged and responsible citizens: locally, nationally, globally.
At a time of unprecedented crisis and complexity, trusted fact-based journalism has never been more important – especially on crucial yet polarising global issues like climate change and migration. Tens of millions of people are suffering in humanitarian crises. They deserve to have their voices amplified; and the chambers of power that shape their lives – from governments to aid agencies – must be held to account.
That’s what we at IRIN try to do on a daily basis. We believe it’s possible to put world-class journalism at the service of the world’s most vulnerable people. But we cannot do it alone.
World Press Freedom Day aims to defend the media from attacks on their independence and pay tribute to journalists who have died in the line of duty, like our Yemeni contributor Almigdad Mojalli, who was killed by an air strike last year.
The threats of physical attack and manipulation are real. But today, another major threat to a free press is financial. In the digital world, independent media like IRIN are struggling to fund their work through traditional income streams like advertising, subscriptions, and even grants, amid competing donor demands. We need a new way forward.
That’s why, for the first time in IRIN’s 20-year history, we are calling out to you to join us in our journey and support the journalism you want to consume.
Today, we are launching an online donations platform. It’s a chance for you to help shape IRIN’s future and become a part of a global community of people who think journalism – done properly – can change the world for the better.
Together, let’s build the world we believe in.
(TOP PHOTO: Since war broke in Syria in 2011, more than five million people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries. This is one of two Domiz camps in Iraq’s Kurdistan region which are home to 40,000 refugees. Jodi Hilton/IRIN)