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International Right to Know Day
The collapse of traditional journalism in the U.S. may affect more than just the morning paper. It may impinge on freedom as well, said Barb Frey, director of the human rights program at the University of Minnesota, at a September 10 forum recognizing International Right to Know Day.
Frey explained that the right to obtain information from governments is a human right-declared so by Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. The press plays a critical role in upholding this right.
"Journalists are the key," said Frey. "The collapse of the news model, economically, is really a threatening situation. [Without journalists], what do we focus on to seek information and bring issues to the public? It's really a serious problem that threatens more than whether I get my newspaper. We really need to fix this."
Worldwide, individuals remain relatively unaware of their right to information. International press councils and other NGOs are leading the charge in educating the public in this human right-which promotes freedom by keeping governments accountable and transparent.
In Minnesota, the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MN COGI) has committed itself to promoting open access to information and raising awareness of individuals' right to know. MN COGI hosted this forum in honor of International Right to Know Day, which is observed September 28 across the globe. International Right to Know Day was founded by information advocates in 2003, and aims to raise awareness of individuals' right of access to government-held information. For more information regarding freedom of information, visit MN COGI at http://www.mncogi.org/.
FULL DISCLOSURE: Colleen Callahan is a graduate student enrolled in the human rights program at the University of Minnesota. This semester, she is a student of Barb Frey.
Colleen Callahan (colleenmcallahan [at] gmail [dot] com) is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and a freelance writer.
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©2009 Colleen Callahan