A civic discussion about free expression

Who: IFEX, with Good & Ready.

What: Awareness advertising about the importance of freedom of expression, which can be used as a “kit” for the network of 100 different free expression organizations around the world.

When & Where: The new creative launched May 3, timed for World Press Freedom Day, and can be used primarily in owned social around the world.

Why: IFEX chose the theme of “civic space” for this year’s campaign, with a civic space being anywhere people can meet and organize to affect political change—from a public square to an online chat room—explained Good & Ready’s partner Terry Drummond.

People don’t talk about civic spaces much day-to-day, but they are essential to free expression, he said. “The reason IFEX chose to focus on civic space is they noticed that authoritarian regimes became more sophisticated about suppressing freedom of expression. Instead of imprisoning a dissident, which gets noticed, it is easier to close a town square and say it is for public safety,” he said.

”Civic spaces are critical to our freedom. So, ultimately, the campaign is an effort to get the concept of ‘civic space’ into the conversation.”

How: Good & Ready developed creative assets featuring evocative images of journalists that have been attacked by authoritarian governments as part of larger efforts to shut down civic spaces. “You cannot have press freedom with civic space,” reads the headlines. Smaller copy is used to tell the story behind the image, along with the tagline “Protect civic space.”

“The campaign is a template,” said Drummond. It’s mainly to show other members in the network how to post to their owned social media properties for events like World Press Day, although in the past IFEX organizations have used it for T-shirts and posters.

“It also demonstrates how to respond to events, like an attack on a journalist,” said Drummond. “The idea is to show how every authoritarian action can be traced back to dictators and bad actors owning/controlling the civic space.”

And we quote: “Imagine hundreds of localized campaigns, taking place all at once, all around the world. We can truly have a global impact this way. And all the assets will be very consistent even though they have been authored by 100s of creators—it will be really powerful.”  —Annie Game, executive director, IFEX.

David Brown