Television

CNN's Christiane Amanpour named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador

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NEW DELHI: Renowned journalist and CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour has been named the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of Expression and Journalist Safety in a ceremony at the organization's headquarters in Paris.

UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova named Amanpour "in recognition of her efforts to promote free, independent and pluralistic media, having the right to work free from the threat of violence, and contributing through this to peace, sustainability, poverty eradication and human rights."

"In the most challenging situations, addressing the most demanding interlocutors, integrity and courage have always guided you, with the conviction that freedom of expression, media freedoms are essential for stronger societies, for healthier democracies, for peace and reconciliation as well as sustainable development - we need to defend these principles more than ever today, at a time when they are challenged across the world," Bokova said.

In her acceptance speech, Amanpour stressed the important role of journalists as pillars of reform, freedom and democracy whose task was to strengthen civil society. "We're here to make the world a better place," she said.

She also made an impassioned plea for the release of all imprisoned journalists, wherever they may be, and condemned the increasing number of attacks and assassinations of media professionals

Amanpour has won every major television journalism award, including eleven News and Documentary Emmy Awards, four Peabody Awards, two George Polk Awards, three duPont-Columbia Awards and the Courage in Journalism Award. She has received nine honorary degrees, has been named a Commander in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) and was this year inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame.

In a message to mark World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, United Nations secretary Ban Ki-moon said called upon all Governments, societies and individuals to uphold the principles put forward by Member States on the need for the free exchange of information and ideas, both within and among nations.

"We must commit to ensure that the safety and human rights of journalists are protected, independent of the political, socioeconomic or cultural pressures that may threaten, impede or deter their freedom to keep the world informed. Around the globe, journalists are attacked every day as they try to carry out their work. In the last year alone, 61 journalists were killed. Many more languish in jails without charges or any sign of due process, the victims of Governments and others that prohibit free inquiry and use the power of the State to intimidate the press. As we mark World Press Freedom Day this year, let us honour the memory of those who lost their lives and intensify our efforts to uphold the fundamental human right to freedom of expression and press freedom," Ki-moon said.

This year's theme, Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, & Media Safety in the Digital Age emphasizes the importance of ensuring a free and pluralistic media against the backdrop of a fast-paced and ever-changing digital world.

Meanwhile, UNESCO will celebrate World Press Freedom Day in Riga, Latvia, this year with a two-day conference and the awarding of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The conference in Riga will be held from 2 to 4 May while national celebrations will take place in about 100 countries around the world.

On World Press Freedom Day, the World Press Freedom Prize will be awarded to jailed Syrian journalist Mazen Darwish in a ceremony to be held in the presence of the president of Latvia Andris Berzins. The laureate will be represented by his wife, journalist Yara Bader, who is also the director of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom and winner of the 2012 Ilaria Alpi award for brave female journalists.

UNESCO is focusing on three themes for World Press Freedom Day this year: the need for "quality journalism", reporting that is accurate and independent, remains a constant concern in a media landscape that is changing due to technological and commercial developments; Gender imbalance continues in the media 20 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Change. All too few women journalists are able to reach decision-making positions in the media. For this reason, more than half of all the speakers at the conference will be women, executives and media professionals from all over the world: and digital safety, a topic of growing concern because digital communications makes it difficult for journalists to protect themselves and their sources.

During the conference, UNESCO will launch Building Digital Safety for Journalism, a study analyzing key digital threats facing journalists and their sources. This is the most recent in a series of UNESCO publications designed to help journalists improve their professional security.

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