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World Press Freedom Day Celebration Moves Online

Despite the disruption caused by the COVID 19 pandemic there will be an online global celebration of the 28th World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), featuring several high-level discussions and the launch of Massive Online Open Source Course (MOOC) on COVID 19 Reporting. Links to the online activities associated with the WPFD are below.

The traditional global conference marking the WPFD  was planned to be held in the Hague, from 22 to 24 April but was rescheduled to take place from 18 to 20 October as a joint celebration of World Press Freedom Day (3 May) and the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (2 November). Every year, 3rd  May is a date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. The WPFD was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993.

In her message on the occasion of 2020 World Press Freedom Day, the UNESCO Director-General Ms Audrey Azoulay, said that at  a  time  when  we  are  mired  in  worry  and  uncertainty  because  of  the  coronavirus  disease  (COVID-19)  pandemic,  free  information  is  essential  to  helping  us  face,  understand, think about and overcome this crisis.  First, we must consider the vital importance of information in this situation: informing the public means giving everyone the means of combatting the illness by adopting appropriate practices.

This is why the Organisation has teamed up with the rest of the United Nations family to  fight  the  “infodemic”    of  rumours  and disinformation  which  is  exacerbating  the  pandemic and putting lives at risk. To help put an end to the problem, we have joined forces to promote two major social-media  campaigns,  Together  for  Facts,  Science  and Solidarity and Don’t Go Viral.  To bolster the effectiveness of these initiatives, UNESCO has also created a COVID-19 resource centre for the media. This online platform aims to help journalists track false  information  regarding  the  pandemic  and  report  on  the  crisis  reliably  and  effectively,  as encouraged  by  the  theme  of  World  Press  Freedom  Day  2020,  “journalism without fear or favour”.

You can join the online initiatives through the links below.

3rd May 2020 at 5pm ET:

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO organises  the Difference Day conference. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic,  it  will look slightly different as this year’s annual event will come  in the form of a livestreamed and interactive event. Keynote speakers including Mr. Guilherme Canela, UNESCO Chief of Section for Freedom of Expression, Ms. Caoilfhionn Gallagher, Human Rights and Media Law specialist, and this year’s laureate of the Difference Day Honorary Title will join the event and discuss the current challenges to guarantee ‘Journalism without Fear or Favour’,

Join Difference Day the 3rd of May 2020 at 5pm and follow the free livestreamed event on

streamed online on Monday 4 May at 5:00 PM Central European Time (GMT +2).

UNESCO’s flagship event – Online High Level Dialogue on Press Freedom and Tackling Disinformation in the COVID-19 Context will be held on the 4th of May. It  will bring together UN Secretary-General António Guterres, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, journalist Younes Mujahid, President of the International Federation of Journalists, Maria Ressa, investigative journalist from the Philippines, founder of the Rappler news website, and the Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders, Christophe Deloire, alongside a number of other high level participants. Prominent Mexican-born American journalist Jorge Ramos will moderate the debate.


The meeting will take place on Microsoft Teams. A meeting link will be posted shortly. You can also receive the link by sending an e-mail to

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO and the International Civil Society Organization on the Safety of Journalists Coalition are organizing an interactive panel hosted online. The panel will shed light on and proposes coordinated solutions to the threats and safety issues faced by journalists and media workers amid COVID-19.

Moderated by Preethi Nallu (Advocacy Specialist, International Media Support) and with the participation of Nadine Hoffman (Deputy Director, International Women’s Media Foundation), Tabani Moyo (Director, Media Institute for Southern Africa – Zimbabwe), Courtney Radsch (Advocacy Director, Committee to Protect Journalists) and Ana Cristina Ruelas (Regional Director, ARTICLE 19 Mexico and Central America), the panel covers the multifaceted challenges to journalists’ safety.

The panelists will provide a global overview of the threats and attacks on journalists in the face of the pandemic and give special attention to gender and diversity issues related to safety concerns. The panel will additionally cover particular countries and explore how emergency legislation, verbal attacks and police harassments have intensified and compromised journalists’ safety

WEBINAR ON EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE IN TIMES OF COVID 19 on 5th May, to register, please send an email to (link sends e-mail)

As part of the global celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2020, UNESCO is also organising also a webinar to discuss editorial independence and media capture in times of COVID-19 and beyond. It  will feature a discussion of the forthcoming UNESCO study ‘Reporting Facts: Free from Fear or Favour’. To register, please send an email to (link sends e-mail) with your full name and the name of your organization using the subject ‘Media Independence in Times of Crises’. Registration closes on 5 May at 11 a.m.


UNESCO and WHO launched a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Journalism in a pandemic: Covering COVID-19 now and in the future”, organized by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin.

This is a four-week online training programme aiming at providing journalists with the necessary knowledge and tools to cover the COVID 19 health crisis, and the social, financial and political consequences it entails. The MOOC will be offered simultaneously in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.  Each module includes a series of videos, PowerPoint presentations, readings, quizzes and discussion forums dealing with specific aspects of the course. The Spanish, Portuguese and French versions of the course will be taught by high-profile instructors.

“This story is so big: It incorporates not just epidemiology and clinical care and biomedical research, but politics and finance and commerce and many other topics,”, said the award-winning science journalist Maryn McKenna, who will be the lead instructor of the MOOC. “I’m a science journalist who has spent my career writing about epidemics, yet I am having to learn new things every day — and I think many other journalists will be in the same position”.