For World Press Freedom Day, NAA, WAN-IFRA and RSF Appeal to the UN

They're asking the UN to create a press protector position.

It’s World Press Freedom Day, and this year’s marking of the annual event feels bleak, considering the declining state of press freedom over this past year as well as the preceding years.

The day is meant to both celebrate free press (where it exists), measure the state of press freedom, advocate for more of it and honor journalists killed in the line of journalistic duty. The day was made UN-General-Assembly official in 1993, based off of a UNESCO call, which itself was inspired by the 1991 Windhoek Declaration, which came out of a meeting of African journalists.

Since it was a UN created day, the General Assembly is the audience for Newspaper Association of America president and CEO David Chavern‘s statement, the result of a partnership between the NAA, the World Association of World Newspapers and Newspaper Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and Reporters Without Borders. Chavern calls for the creation of a position within the United Nations devoted to preserving the safety of journalists.

“Since 1992, 1,189 journalists have been killed. This is an unacceptable toll for unearthing and disseminating the truth,” he writes. “We urge the United Nations General Assembly to adopt a resolution recommending the Secretary General to appoint a Special Representative for the safety of journalists. We hope our members will join us in this endeavor to protect our journalists internationally, so they might work without fear.”

To prevent the creation of a mere figurehead, Reporters Without Borders, on its site, is requesting that the person in the position be given “political weight, capacity for rapid action and legitimacy to coordinate UN efforts for the safety of journalists.”

There is also a website, protectourjournalists.org, devoted to the campaign.