As a boy I clung tight to Wicket the Ewok, my childhood companion from the forest moon of Endor. Given my affection for this furry friend, it would be remiss of me to let May 4th pass without making a Star Wars reference:
As an adult, the day which precedes this wonderful interlude of sci-fi reminiscing looms larger:
In many ways it is fitting these two memorial days are side by side. A central theme in the Star Wars saga was the freedom of peoples to live according to their need, rather than according to the want of an empire. Press freedom speaks to the heart of the Star Wars narrative. As Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights attests:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
I, however, would argue that freedom of opinion counts for little if it is not an informed opinion. For this, we need a point of reference for which journalism frequently is the primary source. But if the reporters are not free to investigate and report as the facts dictate, their articles will only further what António Guterres referred to as a pandemic of misinformation:
As the [COVID-19] pandemic spreads, it has also given rise to a second pandemic of misinformation, from harmful health advice to wild conspiracy theories. The press provides the antidote: verified, scientific, fact-based news and analysis.
Yet this should not be read as a panegyric to journalists. I often bemoan the quality of their writing, riddled as it so frequently is with factional bias. But I do rejoice when it is freely written with full and frank access to people and events. In such a situation, the competing journals of record provide a good cross section of partisan views. From these myriad faces of truth, a more informed opinion of events can be gleaned. One worthy of the grand idea of right to opinion and expression the Universal Declaration seeks to enshrine.
Let us pause on this day and take a moment to remember the brave individuals who work so tirelessly to report on events. May the Fourth be with them.