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Journalism, an indispensable and daring profession

Published: 2020.09.22 - 17:24:51  /  /  Marta Veloz Núñez

Journalism, an indispensable and daring profession

‘’The Press is not kind approval or insulting anger; it is a proposal, study, examination and advice’’. With these beautiful and precise words that date back to 1875 and are totally valid, the distinguished Cuban journalist, poet and patriot, José Martí, defined such profession, which every September 8 commemorates its International Day.

Although the International Day of Journalism was not born as a celebration of those who practice the so-called "craft of communication", and have the great responsibility to collect data on certain facts, report, investigate and comment on them with truthfulness in the media.

It was the assassination of the Czech journalist Julius Fucik, executed by the Nazis in Berlin in 1943 on September 8, that motivated this international commemoration of recognition of the guild. Fucik, while waiting for the unjust execution, wrote a denunciation material entitled "Report at the foot of the gallows", which was taken sheet by sheet from the prison and published in 1945. This testimony has been translated into more than 80 languages and its author was posthumously awarded the International Peace Prize in 1950.

Many countries have also established their National Press Day, especially in the American region and in Spain, whose celebrations are identified with certain relevant events linked to the profession in their nations.

In Cuba, for example, Press Day has been celebrated since 1992, on March 14, to honor the date of publication of the first issue of the Patria newspaper, founded and directed by José Martí since 1892, where many of his works were published. When he died, Enrique José Varona took over the direction and from issue 176, Patria was the official body of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, until it closed at the end of 1898.

Thus, on 18 December 2013, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved a resolution on the safety of journalists, in which it condemned all types of attacks against these professionals, and consequently proclaimed 2 November as the "International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists". On the same date, 2013, two French journalists were murdered in Mali.

Recently, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), published a report entitled Intensified Attacks, New Defenses, in which it denounced that almost 90% of those responsible for the murder of more than 1,100 information professionals in the world, between 2006 and 2018, have not been condemned. It also states that there has been an 18% increase in homicides between 2014 and 2018, compared to the previous five-year period.

It is worth noting that in Cuba, the last murder of a journalist occurred in Havana on May 13, 1958 (the year before the triumph of the Revolution), and it was the Colombian Carlos Bastidas Argüello, who had just carried out reports and interviews in the Sierra Maestra, in the area of operations of the revolutionary army commanded by Fidel Castro.

It is evident that death and harassment are the price paid by the professionals of the word when they make public cases of politics, corruption, crimes and other "very dirty laundry" in their reports that their authors have to hide. Nothing is more similar than the case of the Australian journalist who founded WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, who revealed war crimes in the United States on that platform, and after almost a decade, is still paying for it, suffering from intriguing and dull judicial harassment in order to be convicted and extradited to the American executioner.

Those who respect and value journalism say that the right to information is a fundamental condition for the full development of democracy in civilized peoples, and only in this way can citizens express their opinions and act freely. For this reason, they affirm that ‘’journalism must defend these human needs and preserve the full rights of citizens.’’

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