On this World Press Freedom Day, France reaffirms its unwavering, resolute commitment to the freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the protection of journalists throughout the world.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration signed on May 3, 1991, by African journalists in support of a free, independent and pluralistic press, a declaration that subsequently became universal in scope. That date was deliberately chosen by the UN to celebrate World Press Freedom Day.
This Declaration remains more relevant than ever as the freedom of the press and the safety of journalists are increasingly under attack worldwide and new challenges are threatening the freedom to inform and to be informed, both online and offline.
In the digital era, a free, independent and pluralistic press remains essential to the proper functioning of our societies, especially in a time of crisis when the right to access reliable information is crucial in the face of information manipulation and the scourge of infodemics. France has also instigated legislation both domestically and in Europe on neighboring rights, to ensure that media outlets are guaranteed fair remuneration by the major digital platforms.
Because it fully agrees with the notion of “information as a public good” vital to our democratic societies, in September 2019 France partnered with Reporters Sans Frontières to launch the International Partnership on Information and Democracy, now endorsed by 42 countries.
Working with RSF and a dozen civil society organizations worldwide, the Information and Democracy Initiative has mobilized its efforts against information manipulation. Recommendations have been formulated on concrete actions to regulate online content in order to better combat infodemics in a democratic manner, and a second working group will soon present proposals on the crucial challenges to the sustainability of journalism in the digital era. Indeed, when the economic model for media outlets is undermined by digital companies, it is press freedom as a whole that is threatened. Together we must reflect on a model for fair revenue sharing between the media outlets that produce information and the platforms that disseminate it.