Director’s Letter: February 2014

Dear Friends,

This month EJN work has been focused on Africa – meeting editors and journalists in Egypt to discuss self-censorship; helping Tunisian media leaders to prepare the launch of the country’s first press council; and working with regional partners to launch an Africa-wide media campaign on hate speech.

The campaign will be a centrepiece of a major meeting supported by the EJN and network partners the World Association of Newspapers, the Federation of African Journalists, the International Association of Women in Radio and Television, and the African Media Initiative. The event will be held in Kigali on April 16/17, the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda Genocide.

Also in the pipeline is an EJN event in Myanmar with the press council and independent media leaders to be held in March and, at the end of the month, the launch of two major 10-country surveys – on self-regulation and the crisis of corruption within the media sector.

A meeting of the EJN members takes place in Brussels on February 20th when we are hosted by the Association of Commercial Television in Europe. The major agenda item will be to examine the crisis for ethical journalism in Turkey and the Western Balkans. Participants will discuss plans for cooperation between media in developing programmes to support ethics and good governance in the region over the next five years.

Experts from the Balkans and Turkey will join the meeting. The EJN report from its mission to Turkey in November will be tabled and there will be insights on the continuing problems in the country from European correspondents.

The meeting will also hear from last month’s discussion in Brussels on how to strengthen financial support for media engaged in public interest and investigative journalism which was organised by the European Magazine Media Association.

The EJN Director visited Nairobi and Kampala in January to prepare the Kigali event, which will examine hate speech in media arising from ethnic conflict, gender discrimination and public controversy over laws against homosexuality which have recently been a centre of media attention in Nigeria and Uganda.

The EJN is also preparing a global compilation of all the educational material, codes and guidelines and policy actions available for journalists to raise awareness on the dangers of hate-speech and there are plans to launch this database at the Kigali meeting.

The Director also took part in a ground-breaking meeting in Cairo on February 3rd organised by the newly-formed Egyptian Editors’ Association. More than 30 journalists and editors from across all platforms of journalism and media took part in a vigorous and frank exchange about self-censorship during the political upheaval following the eviction of President Morsi last year.

The Director held meetings with newspaper owners and journalists’ leaders in Tunisia on February 11-12th. He met separately with press and union leaders following a setback in the progress towards creation of a new press council.

Industry disputes over how the council will work, its legal status and the timeline for launching the council threatened to derail a process which has been co-ordinated by the anti-censorship group ARTICLE 19.

The EJN has been instrumental in getting the process back on track and further meetings will take place next month when there are hopes that a date for launching the press council will be agreed.

As always, the details of all our activities will be found on the website. Don’t forget that we have an EJN LinkedIn group, and a Twitter account (@EJNetwork) all of which is being co-ordinated by EJN Communications Officer Stefanie Chernow. More information is also available from me at aidanpatrickwhite@gmail.com.


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