The power of the Word / Opinion

The power of the Word / Opinion

A world award, more than an honor, is a great responsibility, especially when it comes to rights.

Jineth Bedoya Lima

Jineth Bedoya Lima.

Foto:

EL TIEMPO

Por: Jineth Bedoya Lima 
03 de mayo 2020 , 08:48 a. m.

A world award, more than an honor, is a great responsibility, especially when it comes to rights.

That is my main reflection after 72 hours of an announcement by Unesco that made me the receipent, the first time for a Colombian national, of the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

It is inevitable to look back to the road already traveled to understand why the word became vital and the voice, indispensable. Speaking was necessary, because the bombs of drug traffickers were silencing us; we had to shout at the paramilitarism that was cutting throats; We begged, because our liberties were cornered by the so-called 'just causes’ of the guerrillas, and we clamored for a State capable of reaching every corner of Colombia.

That was the country I grew up in and the one I became a journalis int. There was forged a kind of men and women dedicated to communicate about inequalities and injustices, but also to portray the stories of brave anonymous and daring entrepreneurs.

The price of giving a word and a voice to all this news was the lives of many. And for others, it was death in life. They are still paying.
And sometimes it is not possible to determine whether in the end all this is useful for something.

The turmoil of newsrooms seldom leaves room to think thoroughly about how our publications are transforming the world. We live in the inmediate, following the next scandal, the fresh corruption, the next victim, the statistics and their numbers, the virus that mutated. Another war.

The final balance, when the daily news is crumbled, gives us the answer: everything is good for something. To change the life of a peasant, an assaulted woman or a forgotten displaced person; to denounce the corrupt politician or exalt the young entrepreneur. That's what the press is for. That is what the press should be for.

Journalism, rather than being the best job in the world, as Gabriel García Márquez said, is the best transformation tool in the world.

That is why the Unesco distinction brings along so much responsibility, because those who are called to contribute to the change of this planet that we inhabit today are often torn between censorship, self-censorship, threats, persecution, bad practices and new ways of informing.

A free and independent press is the guarantee of democracy for a community. That is the greatest meaning of the award named after Guillermo Cano, who left us the responsibility of denouncing, despite how heavy the burden or the repercussion can be.

This May 3, International Press Freedom Day, should be a date to honor those who report in adverse conditions, but also to connect with the social responsibility of our profession, undoubtebly the best in the world.

JINETH BEDOYA LIMA

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