The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Continuing to Celebrate Sunshine Week

How war in Ukraine reminds us to uphold free press

Last week, student and professional journalists across the globe celebrated Sunshine Week. Sunshine week, created by the News Leaders Association, promotes the importance of open government and freedom of information. 

Sunshine week fell at an especially poignant time as we reflect on the war in Ukraine, and it remains important to continue to uplift the freedom of information and press beyond Sunshine week. 

Journalists around the world are working tirelessly to ensure that the public is aware of the atrocities Ukrainians are facing. Their noble work has put many of these writers, reporters and photographers at risk, with journalists being both targeted and killed during Russia’s invasion. 

While reporting in Kyiv, a Fox News crew was attacked by Russian forces, killing Pierre Zakrzewski, a war photojournalist, and Oleksandra Kuvshynova, a Ukrainian journalist working as a consultant. In the attack, correspondent Benjamin Hall was severely injured and is now hospitalized. Brent Renaud, an American video journalist, came under attack and was killed by Russian forces in Irpin, Ukraine. 

The freedom of press and speech is essential to uphold any democracy. As citizens, when we do not have proper information and knowledge, we cannot make accurately informed choices. A free and independent press is not tied to or influenced by any government, therefore, they report with the sole intention of the truth, regardless of ongoing political turmoil.

A free press educates the public, and by doing so, holds institutions accountable. When corruption occurs, people have the right to know about it. Around the world, citizens deserve the freedom to openly criticize and question their own government.

Unfortunately, the freedom of press is not global. Journalists in Russia face a potential 15 years in prison for using terms like “invasion” and “war” to describe the war in Ukraine. Journalists are being threatened with prison sentences for reporting the truth. And, according to the 2021 World Press Freedom Index, produced by Reporters Without Borders, the U.S. ranks 44th out of 180 countries. Attacks on free press and speech happen abroad, but egregious acts of censorship happen within our own borders as well. 

The work of journalists, especially during a period of war, is incredibly important. The information we receive from a free press is, more often than not, truthful. As citizens, we can form our own opinions based on information we can trust. 

Pope Francis tweeted on March 6 his appreciation for journalists and their work. He explained how journalists’ work allows us not only to learn about the suffering in Ukraine, but it brings us closer to it. “This service that allows us to be close to the tragedy of that population and enables us to assess the cruelty of a war,” the Tweet reads. 

Without the information journalists put their lives on the line for, we are not only in the dark about the situation, but we are further removed from the truth. The knowledge that journalists provide gives first-hand accounts of the damage, injustice and brutality of war. 

As a Jesuit institution that values social justice and solidarity, we must immerse ourselves with the knowledge of what is happening globally and take action to support those that need our help. 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Free Press Unlimited (FPU) have joined together to introduce the coalition Media Lifeline Ukraine to provide the necessary support that will allow journalists to continue reporting reliable information. Donations to Media Lifeline Ukraine will go toward safety equipment, digital security, safe spaces, psychological support and more to journalists. 

We urge readers to donate if they can to continue independent reporting in Ukraine, and to continue to support and uplift journalists in their own communities to ensure and uphold press freedom.

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