Google announced today that it would be sponsoring a United Nations celebration of World Press Freedom Day. The United Nations designates May 3 as World Press Freedom Day, a day which is, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) website, to "evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence, and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession."
William Echikson, Google's head of free expression for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, outlined Google's part in the event in a blog post on Google's European Public Policy Blog. A ceremony will be held on May 3rd in Tunisia, hosted by Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki. Marzouki will present the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to an individual, organization, or institution who has "made an outstanding contribution to the defence of press freedom." In addition, Google will organize a Google+ Hangout from the Tunisian Presidential Palace with the Tunisian President.
Tomorrow's events will be followed by a two-day conference where journalists and organizations from across the world will gather to discuss the changing journalistic landscape. From Echikson's blog post:
We’re involved here as well. Maha Abouelenein, our head of communications in MENA, will participate in a session about new media in the afternoon of May 4. Khaled Koubaa, our government affairs manager for North Africa, will appear on the same day on a panel titled “Innovation in Gathering and Sharing News. Finally, I will speak on May 5 about freedom of expression.
It's interesting and obviously symbolic for UNESCO to hold World Press Freedom Day celebrations in Tunisia, having been just over a year since new media such as Twitter and Facebook played a role in the Tunisian Revolution. It is not surprising that Google is on board, as they have a large outreach to that part of the world, and just recently launched a Tunisian Google site. I do wonder, though, if anyone will mention the radical, free expression of journalism that Anonymous practiced last month.
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