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Voice of America Recognizes 30 Years of World Press Freedom Day

World Press Freedom Day
World Press Freedom Day

Voice of America joins a chorus of voices around the world commemorating World Press Freedom Day.

“For 30 years, May 3 has been one of the most important days of the year on any journalist’s calendar,” said acting VOA Director Yolanda López. “Here at VOA, it’s a day to go above and beyond to serve audiences who desperately crave free and fair media.”

VOA’s 48 language services reach audiences in regions where accessing free media is difficult. The organization Reporters Without Borders says such regions now make up 70 percent of the world.

Clayton Weimers, Executive Director of the U.S. office of Reporters Without Borders, told VOA, “In the case of China and North Korea, there is no free press. It simply doesn’t exist.”

VOA fills that void. In China, where VOA reaches audiences who otherwise lack access to accurate and objective information, VOA has closely covered the situation of local journalists even as its own operations in the country have been restricted. Chinese journalists Allen Ai and Zhao Lanjian are among those who feature in VOA’s Why a Free Press Matters interactive website, which is launching on World Press Freedom Day. Other profiled journalists include:

  • Lima Spesali, a former TV anchor with 1TV in Afghanistan, who hosted current affairs programs until fleeing to Pakistan in October 2022.
  • Emmanuel Jules Ntap, manager of the Yaoundé, Cameroon-based Magic FM, a radio station authorities ordered closed briefly in 2008 over its coverage of protests.
  • Anna Kostiuchenko, a freelance journalist who reports from the front line and occupied territories in Ukraine for media outlets including ICTV and VOA.

Among those reporting from around the world, Voice of America journalists in New York are covering UNESCO’s special anniversary event marking 30 years since the U.N. General Assembly’s decision to proclaim an international day for press freedom. López noted, “Last year, I was honored to deliver the keynote address at UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day Global Conference in Uruguay. This year, I am equally honored to spend this auspicious day with our auspicious team at VOA headquarters as we further establish ourselves as a beacon of press freedom around the world.”

One member of that team is Jessica Jerreat who reports on media issues worldwide as editor of VOA’s Press Freedom Desk. Jerreat notes, “We depend on journalists every single day to help us understand the world around us, to call out injustice and wrongdoing and to ensure the powerful are held to account. At VOA, we make telling their stories part of daily coverage because we know that a free press matters.”