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Recognizing World Press Freedom Day 2020 in Asia Pacific

By Kathleen Reen

On 3 May, the world celebrated the 27th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, originally designated by the United Nations in 1993. This day serves as an annual reminder of the importance of freedom of the press in elevating public discourse, illuminating issues of civic importance, holding public officials accountable, and strengthening democracy across the world. 

Twitter was created 14 years ago to be a service where anyone -- no matter where they are in the world -- can answer the question, “What’s happening right now?” Today journalists, NGOs, and defenders of the free press play a vital part in answering that question on Twitter. Twitter stands with journalists as they practice their profession in precarious circumstances to bear witness to history and give insight into what’s happening in their corner of the world.  

Right now, every journalist is a COVID-19 journalist. From the stories of healthcare workers on the frontlines, to analysis of the real human and economic cost of the pandemic, reporters around the world are still writing, still exposing themselves to harm, still giving us the facts. Journalism is core to our service and we have a deep and enduring responsibility to protect that work. 

In March, we announced our contribution to two critical organizations that are working tirelessly to uphold the fundamental values of a free press during this pandemic. We’re donating one million dollars evenly distributed between the Committee to Protect Journalists (@pressfreedom) and the International Women’s Media Foundation (@IWMF). Their shared efforts to advocate for the rights of vulnerable reporters and to guarantee an equal share of voice for women in the industry has never been more relevant or important.

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For this year’s World Press Freedom Day, we partnered with UNESCO (@UNESCO) to honor journalists and acknowledge the importance of their work. By collaborating with UNESCO to host the #ThankAJournalist activation, we encouraged people to share their thanks for the work that journalists do, as well as highlight key pieces of journalism that have impacted their lives.

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Twitter activated a special #WorldPressFreedomDay emoji to help amplify individual voices coming together to share why they stand together in defense of press freedom. Through hashtags such as #ThankAJournalist and many others as listed below, people who use Twitter around the world —including journalists, NGOs, and government officials — demonstrated their unity in  standing up for a free press.

English: #ThankAJournalist #WorldPressFreedomDay #PressFreedom #WPFD2020

Bahasa Indonesia: #HariKebebasanPers #HariKebebasanPersDunia #KebebasanPers

Bahasa Melayu: #HariKebebasanAkhbar #HariKebebasanAkhbarSedunia #KebebasanAkhbar

Hindi: #धन्यवादपत्रकार, #धन्यवादपत्रकार, #प्रेसस्वतंत्रता

Japanese: #記者に感謝 #世界報道自由デー #報道の自由

Korean: #세계언론자유의날 #언론자유

Simplified Chinese: #感谢记者 #世界新闻自由日 #新闻自由

Traditional Chinese: #感謝記者 #世界新聞自由日 #新聞自由

Tagalog: #SalamatSaPagsusulat #MalayangPamamahayag #ArawngMalawakangMalayangPamamahayag

Thai: #ขอบคุณสื่อมวลชน #ขอบคุณผู้สื่อข่าว #วันเสรีภาพสื่อมวลชนโลก #เสรีภาพสื่อมวลชน #เสรีภาพสื่อมวลชน2020

Vietnamese:  #CảmƠnNhàBáo #CamOnNhaBao #NgàyTựDoBáoChíThếGiới #NgayTuDoBaoChiTheGioi #TựDoBáoChí #TuDoBaoChi

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Twitter also hosted and participated in virtual training sessions and events across the region to celebrate journalists who speak truth to power.

Regional

As a part of our global effort and commitment to freedom of speech, Twitter continues to work closely with UNESCO Bangkok (@unescobangkok), the Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education on providing tips for journalists during COVID-19, quotes of the journalists working in the region during #WPFD2020, and media literacy in Thai language on Twitter. 

In addition, Twitter partnered with UN Human Rights Asia (@OHCHRAsia) to honor the importance of freedom of expression and thanking all journalists and media workers working hard to deliver accurate and insightful information and salute them for fact checking and correcting misinformation, especially during COVID-19.

Australia

The significance of our media cannot be overstated, and the value of their work is more important than ever. We have continued to uphold press freedom by working with our partners The Walkley Foundation (@walkleys), Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom (@4JournoFreedom), and The Kennedy Foundation to amplify their campaigns through best practices trainings, on-platform amplification, and Ads for Good grants.

Greater China

Twitter provided training on how to use Twitter effectively and Ads for Good grant to Reporters without Borders (@RSF_tc and @RSF_zh) to support their work to promote free, independent and pluralistic journalism and to defend media workers in East Asia. 

India

Ahead of World Press Freedom Day 2020, @TwitterIndia showcased two Twitter LIVE panels hosted by Boom FactCheck (@boomlive_in) and Newsroom Post (@NewsroomPostCom) on “the News Business During this Crisis”, touching upon challenges and opportunities, as well as speaking on the importance of #PressFreedom.

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The panels featured prominent news personalities such as Vikram Chandra (@vikramchandra) of Editorji, Padmaja Joshi (@PadmajaJoshi) of Times Now, Prasanna Viswanathan (@prasannavishy) of Swarajya Magazine, Alan Soon (@alansoon) of Splice Media, Ritu Kapur (@kapur_ritu) of The Quint, Siddharth Zarabi (@szarabi), Dhanya Rajendran (@dhanyarajendran) of The News Minute, as well as Sandhya Ravishankar (@sandhyaravishan) of The Lede. The conversations were moderated by Govind Ethiraj of Boom and Santosh Chautrvedi of Newsroom Post.

Indonesia

Twitter provided Ads for Good grant to Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (The Alliance of Independent Journalists, @AJIIndonesia) to support their campaign to eliminate violence against journalists.

Japan

Twitter invited local journalists, media outlets, NPOs and foreign diplomatic missions to participate in the #ThankAJournalist campaign and reaffirm the importance of #PressFreedom.

Malaysia

Twitter provided Ads for Good grant to Centre for Independent Journalism (@CIJ_Malaysia) to support their campaign on media freedom and to amplify their work with journalists on promoting conversations using hashtags including #MediaWeWant and #KebebasanMedia on Twitter.

Philippines

Twitter provided training, security and safety features, and Ads for Good grant to Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (@PCIJdotOrg) and National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (@NUJP) who are one of the organizers of an online forum #JournalismUnfiltered on “Journalism without Fear or Favor” for COVID-19 coverage, together with the Freedom for Media, Freedom for All (FMFA) Network, consisting of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (@CMFR), MindaNews (@mindanewsdotcom), and Philippine Press Institute (PPI).

Singapore

In Singapore, Twitter supported The Necessary Stage (@tns_sg), a non-profit theatre company, with an Ads for Good grant. TNS came to Twitter to express their support for journalists everywhere and share what press freedom means to them. They also shared an excerpt from their play ‘Balek Kampong’, in which a journalist explains why she continues to be a journalist despite the challenges. @WomenTalk also came to Twitter to poledge their solidarity and support for journalists on the frontlines. 

Thailand

Twitter continued to partner with the Manushya Foundation (@ManushyaFdn) to amplify their work on freedom of expression with our Ads for Good grant. Manushya Foundation participated in #ThankAJournalist movement during #WPFD2020 and worked restlessly to provide accurate data, track down misinformation and disinformation, as well as to fight for democracy, justice and free speech in Thailand and around the region. 

Vietnam

Twitter supported The 88 Project (@The88Project) through training on how to use Twitter effectively and on our latest safety and security features in the lead up to the World Press Freedom Day. The 88 Project has been working to support press freedom by amplifying the voices of activists, writers, artists and their communities through peaceful activism and standing up for all Vietnamese journalists that face persecution for factual reporting.

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Check out the below for a small sample of some of the conversation around this year’s #WorldPressFreedomDay:

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For 14 years, Twitter has focused on creating a service that defends and respects people’s voices and fosters a culture where anyone can speak truth to power. Thank you to all those journalists who continue to use Twitter to tell us all “what’s happening”. Twitter remains committed to serving the public conversation and to celebrating the incredible achievements of partners and stakeholders from the press community.

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@kathleenreen

Kathleen Reen

‎@kathleenreen‎

Senior Director of Public Policy and Philanthropy, APAC

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