Director’s Letter: August 2015

Dear Friends,

Media have been busy this month – global stock markets in turmoil, journalists killed in another horrifying gun crime in the United States, and yet more stories of death and tragedy as the global migration crisis continues to dominate headlines across the world. Later this year we will publish a 20-country report on how media are covering migration. We aim to help journalists tackle this complex and often controversial issue. Many journalists are already caught up in intense debate about the best way to tell the story and in August the EJN weighed into a heated discussion over the way media use terms like “migrant”, “refugee” and “asylum seeker”. See our comments here.

On August 11 the EJN Board held a meeting in Oslo, visiting leading media companies VG and TV2 as well as receiving a briefing on the state of self-regulation from the Norwegian Press Complaints Commission. More activities in Norway, in co-operation with the University of Oslo law department and the Oslo Media House, are planned for October.

Also on the theme of migration, the Director took part in the three—day Asian Journalism Forum in Singapore from August 12-14 where regional experts and journalists looked at various aspects of the migration story including the threat of hate-speech, the plight of refugees from Myanmar fleeing religious persecution and discussed ways in which media can improve their reporting on the crisis. During the meeting the EJN organised two sessions on combating hate-speech.

The Director also visited Germany on August 24-25 and discussed launching activities around the EJN and its objectives with the participation of German media leaders.

Also this month, the EJN has begun preparations for its work in the Western Balkans on self-regulation and good governance. This programme will be launched in September in co-operation with UNESCO. Preliminary activities in Kosovo and Serbia are already planned for later this year.

The EJN Director has been in discussions during August with independent journalists from Syria who are planning to launch an ethics code and charter for professionalism in the coming weeks.

The Syrian independent journalists are among the most targeted in the world, but their commitment to independent journalism remains extraordinary despite the appalling war that has wracked the country and driven millions into exile. The EJN will take part in the launch of the code in a special session in Istanbul on September 10.

On August 18 the Director visited UNESCO in Paris and shared information on the EJN’s recent visit to China. UNESCO has indicated that it will support the proposal arising from the mission for a regional discussion involving media players from Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan to develop a strategy to counter the threat of propaganda and hate-speech in journalism which has developed in recent months as tensions in the region of territorial disputes, rising nationalism, and historical arguments over acts of inhumanity dating back more than 70 years ago.

As usual, keep up to date with EJN activity on the web-site where you will find our reports, videos and newsletters. Follow us on Twitter (@EJNetwork). I can provide more information on all of the issues set out here if you contact me at aidanpatrickwhite@gmail.com.

Best,

Aidan White, EJN Director