World Press Freedom Day

  • 03 May 2022

NUJ reflects on this year's 'journalism under digital siege' theme and explores wider threats to journalists globally.

Protecting media freedom and journalists worldwide has never been more important. 

Journalists worldwide are subject to abuse, imprisonment, and face resistance simply for doing their jobs. World Press Freedom Day(3 May) presents an opportunity to raise awareness about threats to media freedom, identify action governments can take to ensure its protection, and for a moment of reflection for journalists killed carrying out their work.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) reported 47 deaths of journalists and media workers throughout 2021, in its killed list report. This year, news of deaths continue to emerge as journalists report in dangerous environments including Ukraine, documenting Russia’s war on the country. Journalists’ deaths in Mexico and Turkey have also been reported.

In Yemen, four journalists are on death row and have had their human rights violated simply for undertaking their work. The NUJ has echoed calls by the IFJ for their release and an open letter with over 1600 signatures can be shared on social media, to raise awareness about their plight.

This year’s theme for World Press Freedom Day is “Journalism under digital siege”. Last month, a report found Pegasus spyware had been used in hackings on the mobile phones of four individuals including two journalists in Jordan. The NUJ joined calls by the IFJ for an investigation into users of the spyware, recognising interference with private communications could have dire consequences for the protection of confidential sources. 

On 9 May,  NUJ Cardiff and SE Wales branch will host "Big data, surveillance & the implications for journalists" with Sarah Murphy MS, Labour Member of the Senedd. Find out more and register.

Wider threats to journalism

Extradition of Julian Assange

The prosecution of Julian Assange by the United States government and efforts to extradite him have been vehemently opposed by the NUJ. In April, Westminster Magistrates' Court sent an extradition order to Home Secretary for approval. If this is granted and the United States is successful in their attempts, the damaging impact on journalism is likely to be widespread. Journalists in receipt of classified information regarding the US may choose not to pursue and publish information, in fear of being prosecuted in the same way as Assange. The NUJ has called for the release of Assange and for charges against him to be dropped.


The NUJ has condemned the use of Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) by the wealthy and powerful to silence and intimidate journalists, through legal challenges. Lawfare/SLAPPs are used as methods of influencing journalistic content and present a significant threat to media freedom. In March, government announced a consultation on the use of SLAPPs in England and Wales seeking views on reform proposals. The consultation closes on 19 May and can be accessed here

The NUJ is holding a webinar on the use of SLAPPs on 10 May. Find out more here.

Protection of sources

In February 2022, Chris Mullin appeared at the Old Bailey to defend himself against a production order brought by West Midlands Police under the Terrorism Act. The order sought to require the disclosure of Mullin’s sources, with clear disregard for a journalist's right to protect sources. The NUJ stood firmly with Mullin, who won the case – a win for press freedom and a blow to damning efforts by West Midlands Police. Read more about the case.

May online events

The National Union of Journalists continues to campaign for media freedom, recognising the range of threats to journalists and journalism worldwide. Throughout May, the union will hold a series of events open to NUJ members and non-members. 


Join us on 10 May to discuss the use of strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) used by wealthy and powerful individuals as tools to intimidate and harass journalists, with an aim to stymie their reporting. The consequence of being subject to SLAPP action often includes high legal bills and considerable emotional impact, and the NUJ has welcomed government’s commitment to tackle its use alongside other forms of lawfare. A call for evidence closing 19 May seeks views on government proposals and the NUJ is encouraging members to complete submissions. Attend our webinar on 10 May to find out more.

Chaired by Chris Frost, NUJ Ethics council chair, speakers will include Susan Coughtrie, Project Director at the Foreign Policy Centre, and journalists who have been subject to SLAPP action.

Register for the event on 10 May at 18.00-19.00

More information on planned events including on the safety of journalists, with members sharing their experiences of abuse will be announced soon. 

Read more about World Press Freedom Day

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