Image courtesy of Giovana Fleck

The past few years have presented unprecedented challenges for journalists and others working in media. Citizens and media workers alike across the world, including in Ethiopia, India, Syria, Ukraine, and Turkey, have faced years of attacks on their freedom of expression as they were increasingly targeted for repression, arrested, silenced, threatened, and more. 

With the arrival of COVID-19 in March 2020, journalists became an even more crucial source of health information and news while simultaneously navigating a pandemic that has killed millions. As citizens were focused on the largest health crisis of the last 100 years, many governments took the opportunity to implement authoritarian policies or consolidate power in harmful ways. 

This is the context in which we celebrate World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) on May 3, 2022. WFPD’s theme this year is “digital siege,” one we at Global Voices find particularly fitting, as our team of journalists, editors, and activists have been a strong, consistent voice in documenting the rise of digital authoritarianism over the past decade. One of our newest projects, the Unfreedom Monitor, launched in March 2022, analyzes and documents how digital communications technologies are being used to advance authoritarian governance around the world. In our Civic Media Observatory work, we have highlighted the importance of an independent press by exploring how Russia has coopted domestic media to wage a propaganda campaign to build support for its war against Ukraine.

But there’s good news as well. In April we witnessed the vindication of a journalist by the European Human Rights Court after being falsely accused of defamation in North Macedonia. In Tbilisi, Georgia, the courts charged 20 far-right citizens with attacking journalists after violence broke out at a Pride March in June 2021. And in Afghanistan, even as we witnessed the effective collapse of the free press under the Taliban rule in August 2021, countless brave women journalists have persevered and spoken out against oppressive and misogynistic policies they enacted.

Freedom of expression is one of Global Voices’ most treasured values, and in observing World Press Freedom Day, we emphasize stories that are often neglected in mainstream media coverage, highlighting the perspectives of regular citizens, marginalized communities, and the work of local journalists.

To read a selection of our work on press freedom, see the stories below:

Stories about World Press Freedom Day 2022