Press freedom

Freedom of the press is a sacrosanct element of a functioning democracy. Without freedom, much worse forms of government take root.

Daily and community Newspapers from across Canada joined together for their annual convention this past week in Ottawa.

As part of that agenda, journalists gathered to recognize World Press Freedom Day.

Atop the Ottawa convention centre attendees were treated to a spectacular view of Parliament Hill. The irony of that backdrop was not lost on us, as nominees for this year’s award focused on federal issues important to all Canadians.

The winners of this year’s Press Freedom award were Stephen Maher of Postmedia News and Glen McGregor of the Ottawa Citizen. Both men worked tirelessly to expose the robo-call affair which developed into a sensational story of concerns with voter fraud in the federal election of 2011.

While never faced with fear for their life like one might find in a foreign theatre, Maher, speaking on behalf of both men, suggested a degree of vilification followed their breaking News story. McGregor, who did not attend, was still pursuing the story at the first court hearing scheduled in Guelph that day. This drew a bit of a chuckle, since reporters know stories don’t wait.

Our dealings with politicians across Wellington County are generally good, apart from occasions when secrecy and the hiding of facts strains those relationships. Sometimes our stories or editorials are less flattering than a politician or bureaucrat might like.

But reporters in Canada are pretty lucky. The worst we get is a cat-call or glare. For our colleagues covering international events, it can be deadly.