On World Press Freedom Day 3 May 2012, WACC President Dr Dennis Smith and General Secretary Dr. Rev Karin Achtelstetter invite members and partners to work towards an international code of ethics for citizen journalism. WACC is celebrating the importance of press freedom and remembering journalists whose lives are threatened in the course of their profession.
“We urge media practitioners – professional and citizen journalists –collectively to find common ground in efforts to agree on professional standards and codes to guide the practice of journalism. An international code of ethics for citizen journalism would provide a much needed framework for new voices working to transform societies”, they write in an open letter to members and partners.
The theme for this year’s World Press Freedom day is “New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies”.
In the open letter, Smith and Achtelstetter draw attention to the transformative power of new media technologies and social media. They cite the ongoing uprisings in the Middle-East which highlight “the potential of citizen journalism to counter attacks on freedom of expression and freedom of the press.”
However, they caution that while emerging media technologies and social media platforms offer new channels for increased information flows and strengthening communication rights, using them demands greater responsibility. “Part of that responsibility is developing and adapting professional standards to guide journalistic practice,” they say.
WACC believes that freedom of expression and freedom of the press are basic human rights. Media independence and pluralism strengthen democratic processes and promote both government accountability and citizen participation. WACC’s new Strategic Plan 2012-2016 focuses especially on the role communication rights play in giving voice to poor, marginalized, excluded and dispossessed people and communities.