Unifor fights for safety and rights of media workers on World Press Freedom Day

A silhouette of a hand holding a pen and hand holding a microphone with a silhouette of barbed wire fence at the bottom. Press Freedom Day EN_FR.PNG

April 24, 2024

Press freedom isn’t free.

Particularly when it comes to journalists and media workers who are risking their lives to cover and deliver quality, fact-based journalism.

On May 3, we mark the 31st anniversary of World Press Freedom Day and celebrate the victories and highlight the worldwide challenges of maintaining a free press. Freedom of the press is an essential cornerstone to a democratic society, and like anything worth having we need to continually fight for it.

Journalists should work free from fear of murder and death.

But the reality is that in 2023, 120 journalists and media workers were killed in one of the deadliest years on record with 68% of those journalists and media workers losing their lives in the Gaza conflict, according to the federation.

Unifor has been working with our international partners, including the IFJ, to demand that journalists are protected in war zones, and end impunity for crimes against journalists.

Journalists should work free from harassment.

But sadly, harassment in the field and online is at epidemic levels, as social media breeds a toxic culture for journalists and media workers.

That’s why Unifor has created a website to support journalists and media workers to help journalists at a time when they need it most called Help is Here.

Unifor represents more than 10,000 media workers, including 5,000 members in the broadcast and film industries.

Our union was proactive in getting the discussion rolling on what we can do to ensure journalists and media workers are free from harassment online and in the field, including holding employers, the government responsible for safe working conditions and social media platforms accountable for what’s posted on their platforms.

A free media is vital to society but the financial models that supported journalism are crumbling and we have more Canadian cities and towns without a local newspaper or TV station, creating massive news deserts.

Unifor has actively fought for financial supports for local news, including the Online News Act, the Modernization of the Broadcasting Act, the Local Journalism Initiative and journalism tax credits. And this is just the beginning, as there are many more supports needed to ensure we have a viable free press in Canada.

Freedom of the press comes at a cost.

Without it, we cannot tell our stories or hold the powerful to account. In this post-truth new era, we are fighting to maintain trusted, verified, and legitimate local news that is essential to building strong communities and a healthy democracy.