World Press Freedom Day: United Nations Reflects on Free Expression

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Today is a day to celebrate, reflect and mourn.

More than 17 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly declared that on May 3 of each year, we should honor the principles of a free press, remind governments of their duty to uphold the right to freedom of expression, and pay tribute to those journalists who have made sacrifices and even died in the line of the duty.

(More on TIME.com: See a video of the fight for press freedom in Tunisia)

This year, the day’s theme is centered around “21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers.” “In 2011, the focus of the celebration is on the potential of the Internet and digital platforms as well as the more established forms of journalism in contributing to freedom of expression, democratic governance, and sustainable development,”  the World Press Freedom Day 2011 website says.

(More on TIME.com: See the best and worst places to be a journalist)

A conference organized by UNESCO and the U.S. State Department for the occasion is being held in Washington at the Newseum, a museum devoted to the history of the press and to freedom of expression.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 145 journalists are currently in prison and 861 have been killed since 1992. And beyond that, press freedoms are still restricted in many countries.

So today, we salute those people and organizations worldwide who continue to bring us valuable information, even despite all of the obstacles (big or small) that they may encounter.

(More on TIME.com: Read about two journalists arrested in Britain’s new phone-hacking probe)

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