Press freedom, social media and the citizen

  • Mark Pearson
Keywords: Article 19, Bill of Rights, Blogging, Citizen journalism, Dissidents, Freedom of expression, Media freedom, Media law, Peace journalism, Press freedom, Sedition, Storytelling, Truth, Media watchdog, UNESCO


On 3 May, 2013, AUT University’s Pacific Media Centre marked the 20th anniversary of the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day with the inaugural event in New Zealand. The event was initiated by UNESCO’s Programme for Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Peace with the first seminar on ‘Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Media’ in Windhoek, Namibia, on 3 May, 1993. The journalists participating in that event drew up the Windhoek Declaration which highlighted that press freedom should be understood as a media system that is free, pluralistic and independent. They insisted that that this dispensation was essential for democracy and development. The Declaration became a landmark document in the fight for press freedom around the world. This address argues that new ethical codes of practice are now needed that are inclusive of serious bloggers and citizen journalists. The author of this address states: ‘The printing press spawned free expression’s offspring—the right of “press freedom”—as pamphleteers fought censorship by governments in the ensuing centuries. Events are unfolding much more quickly now. It would be an historic irony and a monumental shame if press freedom met its demise through the sheer pace of irresponsible truth-seeking and truth-telling today’.


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How to Cite
Pearson, M. (2013). Press freedom, social media and the citizen. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 19(2), 215-227.