At what cost Press Freedom and truth?

01 May 2018 / 19:24 H.

    SINCE the advent of technology, the way we receive information has changed. No longer can we tell if what we are reading or watching is neutral; what is frightening is that the lines between truth and fallacy continue to blur.
    We are now immersed in a world where information races for the inner recesses of our minds. Every medium is used in an effort to predict our behaviour and influence our choices.
    As a consumer, I often ask myself if my product preferences are merely results of good marketing or a reflection of who I am. I learned that websites listing public reviews of services, thereby implying neutrality of sorts, have been accused of poor filtration between fake reviews and real ones.
    But let's take it a step beyond consumerism and into global citizenship. To be a responsible citizen, I strive to be well-read and informed of what's happening around me. However the more I learn, the more complicated it becomes.
    The press has always been known as the Fourth Estate. I've often relied on it. Journalists take pride in delivering the truth in a responsible and accountable manner. That doesn't mean discarding opinion or individuality. It means differentiating between actual reporting and what's personal.
    As the world becomes more connected, however, information no longer comes from just the official press. The rise of citizen reporting, social media influences and content creation has overtaken all of us. Many hold strongly to the tenets of truth and fairness, but some don't.
    This means I have to question if the reporter behind the article I'm reading has an agenda. I wonder if the sensational story on my news feed is click-bait or not. My reading experience involves opening several tabs to fact-check or seek "the other side of the story".
    The search for truth is more complicated than ever. Yet the reality is that truth helps us make better decisions. Whether it's for ourselves, our family or community, knowledge empowers. The press plays a critical role in protecting our rights as individuals, consumers and citizens. Without it, we will inevitably become puppets on a string.
    Sadly, the world seems to be losing its appreciation for truth. Media outlets are being forced to put up paywalls or ask for donations because funders don't just want the reach any more, they want the media's power to influence.
    Although many media outlets are fighting against censorship, they can't do it without support. That's why Freedom of the Press has to be safeguarded by those who need it most. That's us.
    The truth is out there. Journalists do the research, ask the tough questions, sift through the information and deliver facts that impact our lives whether we realise it or not. They go to great lengths for a story, and sometimes at great cost.
    According to the International Federation of Journalists, at least 81 reporters lost their lives in the line of duty in 2017. The Committee to Protect Journalists reported that 262 journalists were imprisoned for doing their jobs.
    World Press Freedom Day is on May 3, and this day belongs to all of us. Demanding the truth but refusing to support those who search it out will not get us anywhere. Standing up for press freedom is choosing truth and it's for our good.

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