May 3 marked the 30th anniversary of the first World Press Freedom Day, created to remind governments of their duty to uphold freedom of expression.
Sadly, the latest World Press Freedom Index revealed an unprecedented 31 countries were deemed to be in a ‘very serious situation’, the lowest ranking, up from 21 just two years ago.
A participatory democracy requires well-informed participants, and well-informed participants need a free press. Sadly, almost every country contains people who would rather silence views they abhor than engage in rational debate. Press freedom was hard won and had its martyrs - we in the island can recall James Brown, who, in 1864, was arraigned for publishing ‘libellous and scandalous paragraphs against House of Keys’, and was accordingly banged up in Castle Rushen for six weeks.
I therefore take this opportunity of expressing my deep and sincere appreciation and admiration for our very own Examiner and Independent newspapers and of all their staff - they can be very proud of what they produce on a weekly basis on our behalf.
This letter was first published in the Isle of Man Examiner of May 9.
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