Europe

World Press Freedom Day: Bloggers reflect

  • 3 May 2013
  • From the section Europe

World Press Freedom Day celebrates its 20th anniversary on Friday. It was first officially proclaimed during the UN General Assembly in 1993.

The theme for 2013 is Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media, a focus that includes securing a free and open internet.

Here bloggers from across the globe reflect on their work in the light of press freedom day.

Juanita Leon, Colombia

Juanita Leon is a journalist and writer who blogs for the news website she founded - La Silla Vacia (The Empty Chair).

Image copyright Juanita Leon

I have a blog about politics in Colombia. I blog because I like the freedom provided by the internet to investigate and write what you find, without having to work for someone else.

I care about public issues in Colombia, and specifically how power is exercised. Why? Because I think that part of having power in Colombia means that you can choose what is said about you - and what is kept secret. I want to break that.

We haven't really found a commercial business model for bloggers in Colombia yet, and still depend in great part on international co-operation. But we feel we have had the freedom to tell everything we know, which is great.

I wouldn't say that it is a privilege that every Colombian has. In Bogota we are a lot more protected. In many areas of Colombia still under the control of illegal groups or under the intimidation of corrupt politicians or armed officials, press freedom is still just an aspiration.

I think that we have a window of opportunity to write, blog and publish freely on the internet.

But there is the risk that if someone finally finds a business model for the web, the big economic conglomerates will conquer the space.

Then the idea that all voices are equal on the web and that what counts is the talent and not the money will become less true. Or maybe not. Who knows.

Natalia Pelevina, Russia

Media captionRussian blogger Natalia Pelevina says that it is "extremely unsafe" to be a journalist in Russia

Natalia Pelevina is a Russian blogger who is often critical of President Putin.

Even with blogs and the internet, censorship does exist. It's extremely unsafe to be a journalist in Russia.

Some journalists have had to leave the country as a result of threats.

It's widespread. We just have to keep going. We stop, and everything ends there.

Chris Kehinde Nwandu, Nigeria

Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the publisher and editor-in-chief of CKN Nigeria.

Image copyright Chris Kehinde Nwandu

At CKN Nigeria we blog breaking news and also about politics, entertainment, fashion and lifestyle.

I blog to express myself and to enlighten people. I want to give a voice to the voiceless. I want to be an agent of change within my own country.

Through my posts I hope most Nigerians will become conscious of their rights. This will spur them towards national development and patriotism, allowing them to hold their leaders to account.

The greatest challenge we face is over logistics and infrastructure. It gets frustrating logging in and publishing articles as the major networks don't work optimally as they should do.

We also have the challenge of power. The electricity supply can be so spasmodic.

A Freedom of Information Act was signed into law by the current Nigerian government, which was a good move by them, though implementation has not been that easy.

Getting access to information in the area of governance or corruption-related stories can be difficult.

I believe more freedom should be given to journalists to do their jobs without any restrictions, especially if it has nothing to do with national security.

Mahmoud Salem, Egypt

Mahmoud Salem is the publisher of the blog Rantings of a Sandmonkey.

I started my blog in December 2004 as a place to vent. Its aim was to be a provocative voice of dissent to the conformist state of Egyptian discourse.

At the time, the only freedom-of-speech space that was available in Egypt was on the internet and no one really brought up the issues that mattered in the regular media.

It was the only place where independent-minded people could get information that was denied to them by the regular media.

I mostly write about Middle East politics and cultural and social issues, because those are the issues that interest me.

It is far easier to blog in today's Egypt, but that doesn't mean that press freedom is in any better shape than the days of [former Egyptian president Hosni] Mubarak.

Ever since the Muslim Brotherhood took over, we have seen a regression in press freedom and an increase in the number of actions taken against newspapers, programmes, journalists and channels that are critical of the current regime.

I believe that the current regime will continue oppressing media outlets that are critical of them, and we might be left once again with the internet as the only outlet.

Big media outlets are already facing a crisis due to the economy and the internet is a space that journalists and activists have used brilliantly against previous regimes, so things won't be that different this time.

Change only comes from the free exchange of ideas and ability to collaborate, and those two are provided by blogging and social media, so I wouldn't be too relaxed if I was in power.

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