On press freedom, ‘information as a public good’ and misinformation and disinformation
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IAWRT USA President Sheila Dallas-Katzman (USA/Jamaica) and community development professional Howard Katzman (USA), former IAWRT President Frieda Werden (Canada), and IAWRT Communication Officer Lady Ann Salem (Philippines) discuss press freedom in an online chat for One Boat: International Chaplaincy for Covid times.
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What is press freedom? What does UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day theme ‘information as a public good’ mean? How do these concepts mean to the public? These are some questions raised in the conversation.
They also talk about misinformation and disinformation during the pandemic—that many groups have dubbed as infodemic. Salem distinguished misinformation as false information most likely to be passed along innocently, like the myths about Covid-19 cure shared in group chats and online posts when the pandemic just began. Disinformation, on one hand, is malicious and intentional spread of false information, usually to achieve a certain end.
They also catch up on Salem’s situation. She was arrested on December 10, 2020 on planted evidence and police trumped-up charges after being red-tagged in a December 1 Senate hearing, part of media attacks and political persecution in the Philippines. The charges against her were dismissed on February 5 and she was released on March 5 after almost 3 months of incarceration.
Sheila Katzman valued the importance of the conversation for World Press Freedom Day, as journalists from IAWRT’s own network have suffered attacks or threats in the past months up to present. Freedom of the press and the safety of journalists is in jeopardy in many countries. These situations also put a strain on the public’s right to information.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that in 2020, the number of journalists killed in retaliation for their reporting more than doubled, with Mexico and Afghanistan seeing the largest number of killings.
According to CPJ, the number of journalists jailed for their reporting in 2020 reached the highest level since the organization began keeping track, with the People’s Republic of China, Turkey, and Egypt imprisoning the most reporters last year. In Russia, authorities continue to restrict independent reporting, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
In this conversation:
Current President of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) USA chapter, Chair of New York City for the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), a facilitator for workshops aimed at dissecting racist beliefs and behavior using sociodrama and theatre of the oppressed methodologies to enable self-reflection and engender behavioral change through action methods.
Co-founder and current series producer of WINGS: Women’s International News Gathering Service, a weekly radio program by and about women around the world that is distributed free to community radio stations in several countries. Her other experience includes work with publishing, public radio networks, community radio and TV, the Texas Women’s History Project, and the Foundation for a Compassionate Society. She is a former President of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television, and former North America Vice President of l’Association Mondiale des Radiodiffuseurs Communautaires (AMARC). She lives in Canada.
International and domestic community development professional with experience managing projects, promoting dialogue, empowering communities in Africa, the Caribbean, and New York City, using communications and community organizing techniques. Member of NYC4CEDAW Steering Committee (Policy and Strategy) since 2014.
Lady Ann Salem
Lady Ann Salem finished Broadcast Communication at the University of the Philippines. She served as executive director of Tudla Productions, producing social documentaries from 2008 to 2014. She is one of the founders of online publication Manila Today and served as its editor since 2014. She is currently one of 15 National Directors of National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.