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Mediasind: Status of journalists deteriorates every day; freedom of speech becomes a fad at political power's mercy

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The situation in the media industry and, in particular, the status of the journalists, is deteriorating with each passing day, as the freedom of speech becomes a fad at the mercy of political power, MediaSind Romanian Journalists' Trade Union (SRJ) said Friday in a press statement. 

"The MediaSind Romanian Journalists' Trade Union has noted that the situation in the media industry and, in particular, the status of the journalist, is deteriorating with each passing day and that freedom of speech is becoming a fad at the mercy of political power. A few days before the World Press Freedom Day, lawmakers amended the Criminal Code to introduce deprivation of liberty sentences for those who make public information from various criminal files. This way, not only is the freedom of expression of journalists being limited, as they can no longer carry out their activity in accordance with their deontological code, but also to the public has its elementary right to information amputated. A great failure of our society still is that the public media organisations remain politicised and the employees of the Romanian Television Broadcasting Corporation and the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Corporation are subject to huge pressures to be used in electioneering. Social dialogue at all levels is blocked by restrictive and abusive labour legislation, which seriously affects the press, which at least locally is an endangered species," reads the statement. 

According to MediaSind, journalists need citizens' support, "which can limit, through various protest actions, the measures of the political power to restrict freedom of speech." 

"Pressure from international organisations on local decision-makers have proved to be particularly useful in many of the difficult episodes of the Romanian press in recent years. Citizens should understand that journalism is a public good; it is one of the cornerstones of democracy. That is why they should get involved and ask government about the way they spend our money. Under what circumstances are the money spent for public media organisations? A major desideratum of any democratic society is that the media is not controlled by the government or manipulated by politicians. That can happen only when citizens realise that the media is theirs, because they pay for it." 

MediaSind is of the opinion that the media must be a public good, such as healthcare, "because the right to information is as an essential right as the right to healthcare is. Unfortunately, the solutions to solving the main problems of the guild, identified and supported by MediaSind, have not been embraced by politicians or media owners who, by displaying an obsolete mentality, treat journalist as employees who only have to do as ordered." 

World Press Freedom Day is an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; assess the state of press freedom throughout the world; defend the media from attacks on their independence, and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty, according to www.un.org. 

The 26th celebration of World Press Freedom Day is jointly organised by UNESCO, the African Union Commission and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The main event will take place in Addis Ababa, on May 1-3, at the African Union Headquarters. 

This year's theme "Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation" discusses current challenges faced by media in elections, along with the media's potential in supporting peace and reconciliation processes. 

Every year, on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day, a UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Award is presented. 

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO's General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.

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