World Press Freedom Day 2017 – vital to the exposure of child sexual abuse

Investigative reporting is vital to the exposure of child sexual abuse. Today is World Press Freedom Today, Wednesday 3 May 2017. The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day or just World Press Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and marking the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991.

UNESCO marks World Press Freedom Day by conferring the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on a deserving individual, organisation or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger. Created in 1997, the prize is awarded on the recommendation of an independent jury of 14 news professionals. Names are submitted by regional and international non-governmental organisations working for press freedom, and by UNESCO member states.

To those surviving child abuse and wishing to report current/past abuses and wanting to protect children from future/potential abusers the Press play a VITAL ROLE. Without reporters our stories would not be told. Perpetrators would not be exposed and investigated and difficult cases would not be pursued until someone listened. Too often it is a dogged, determined reporter that shines the light on hidden abuse. Spare a thought today for reporters that are incarcerated or imprisoned just for doing their job. They are legends and many of us have much to be grateful to them for. Many children in the future will be protected in the future as Governments and Agencies are held to account by the Press.

An excellent and one of the most high profile investigative journalist cases on child sexual abuse later turned into a movie is “Spotlight”.In 2002, the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team, a group of five investigative journalists, uncovered the widespread sexual abuse of children by scores of the district’s clergy. They also revealed a cover-up: that priests accused of misconduct were being systematically removed and allowed to work in other parishes.

The team’s investigation brought the issue to national prominence in the US, winning them the Pulitzer prize for public service. The journalists’ story, and those who suffered at the hands of the clergy, are the subject of Spotlight, a Hollywood movie starring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams. It is a love letter to investigative journalism and a reminder that, 13 years and some $3bn in settlement payments later, survivors in Boston and beyond are still waiting for satisfactory long-term action from the Vatican. However, their story did get told and Priests were finally exposed. A terrific example of good reporting. Great journalism. Great Press.

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