from the hello,-ambassador-streisand! dept
Hey, everyone, today is World Press Freedom Day, which is a day created by the UN to “celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom,” to “assess the state of press freedom throughout the world” and to “defend the media from attacks on their independence.” Sounds good, right? So how is the UN itself celebrating World Press Freedom Day? Why, by refusing to allow a presentation to be heard that calls out Turkey for its suppression of press freedom.
The News Literacy Project — which, as the name suggests, seeks to increase new literacy among students — was all set to do a presentation at the UN’s Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) for World Press Freedom Day. However, just before the event, the UNAOC told NLP that it was “indefinitely postponing” their presentation unless references to the suppression of press freedoms in Turkey were removed. Really.
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) indefinitely postponed an event at the U.N. tomorrow to observe World Press Freedom Day after the News Literacy Project (NLP) refused UNAOC?s request to remove references in our presentation to several countries where press freedom is limited.
The references are in videos from a new lesson on international press freedoms in our Checkology virtual classroom, which I was planning to introduce at the event. The videos include remarks, written for the lesson by NLP and presented by lesson host Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson of NPR, about severe restrictions on press freedom in Turkey, Mexico and Egypt and comments by Russian and Pakistani journalists describing the challenges they face.
NLP submitted the presentation to UNAOC on Monday so it would be ready to be shared with the audience. A UNAOC official then asked us to delete the reference to Turkey ? which, along with Spain, had proposed the creation of UNAOC in 2005 ? and the official later insisted that NLP not share any of the video clips.
Of course, all this is really doing is driving a hell of a lot more attention to (1) the suppression of press freedom in Turkey and (2) the out and out hypocrisy of the UN. We’ve certainly written a bunch about how Turkey has suppressed the media by throwing hundreds of journalists in jail and then calling them terrorists, and it has tried to export its journalist suppression elsewhere, including here in the US.
There are so many stories of Turkey throwing journalists in prison that it’s tough to keep track of them all. And, frankly, most people would have never known about NLP’s presentation, which only appears to mention Turkey’s journalism suppression in passing, had the UN not tried to silence them.
So, it would certainly appear that inadvertently, in trying to stifle any mention of press censorship and intimidation by the Turkish government, the UN has successfully gotten a lot more attention to Turkey’s attacks of press freedom. I guess that makes it a successful World Press Freedom Day… even if it also involved exposing the UN’s own weak backbone on the very topic it claims to be celebrating.