May 3 is World Press Freedom Day, a day which aims to celebrate the importance of free press, according to the United Nations website.
The specific theme for 2018 is “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law.” Its goal is to highlight the importance of a proper legal environment to protect journalists, according to the website.
Daniela Doncel, news director at WHUS and sixth-semester journalism and French double major, said that following Save Student Newsrooms Day on April 25, the University of Connecticut’s journalism students value the importance of an international day that honors their craft.
“The U.S. prides itself in the freedom of expression, and a major part of that is the ability to comment and/or criticize what is going on in our country,” Doncel said. “A day to honor the press is a recognition by this country that despite the tension or disputes that comes from the media, the press is a vital part of what makes this country the United States, a country that values freedom.”
Doncel said she feels this year’s theme helps journalists feel safe, especially when stories can be dangerous to expose to the public.
“The number one responsibility of a journalist is to serve the public, so when news stories get messy in court, for example, journalists need legal protections to be able to fulfill that responsibility,” Doncel said. “Journalists are watchdogs over the government for the public, and you can’t serve that role if there are not legal protections in place.”
Doncel said that at UConn, the large news presentation helps journalism students feel safe to study and explore real world opportunities.
“Thankfully, I have not (my press freedom jeopardized). I think UConn is a great place to study journalism because our news media presence is so great, like with the Daily Campus, WHUS, UCTV and HerCampus,” Doncel said. “People on campus are aware of these media outlets, so it’s a great way for journalism students to get experience because people are willing to work with student journalists since they’re aware.”
Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.