World Press Freedom Day is sponsored by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). It is intended to highlight the importance of a free and independent media. UNESCO’s director-general, Irina Bokova says, “At this time of turbulence and change across the world, including new challenges that require global cooperation and action. The need for quality information has never been so important this requires a strong environment of press freedom and well-functioning systems to ensure the people’s right to know.”
The survival of independent news coverage is becoming increasingly precarious throughout the world in both state and privately-owned media because of the threat from ideologies, especially religious ideologies, that are hostile to media freedom, and from large-scale propaganda machines.
The United States ranked 41st in a report issued by the United Nations, up eight places from last year. The report concluded that a major obstacle to press freedom in the United States is “the government’s war on whistle-blowers who leak information about its surveillance activities, spying and foreign operations.”
Edward Snowden and corporate whistleblowers Sherron Watkins, and Cynthia Cooper would agree with that rating. Sherron Watkins exposed the misdeeds of Enron Corp. Cynthia Cooper exposed fraud at Worldcom.
“At a time when corporate dishonesty is dominating public attention, Extraordinary Circumstances makes it clear that the tone set at the top is critical to fostering an ethical environment in the workplace.” – Cynthia Cooper
World Press Freedom Day: US 41st
Whistleblowers help journalists uncover fraud and other wrongdoing. The state of the Union is not good, and these famous names remind us of that.
FBI agent Colleen Rowley exposed FBI inaction on 9/11 terrorists. Jeffrey Wigand informed on the tobacco industry, which continues to wreak havoc in the third world. Remember Karen Silkwood? She blew the whistle on nuclear plants. Frank Serpico was a NYC police officer. He moved out of the country after being shot in the face. Linda Tripp informed on the White House scandal with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
Three years ago, Politico published this excellent list of 10 famous whistleblowers.