Director’s Letter: January 2014

Dear Friends,

This year EJN will be launching new programmes in Africa and Latin America and carrying out multi-country reviews of the effectiveness of current systems of self-regulation and the ethical threats to journalism when media operate in a corrupt environment of conflicting commercial and political interests. Also on the agenda for 2014 is fresh co-operation with EJN members in Egypt, Tunisia, Pakistan, South-East Asia, and Turkey.

Our programme for 2014 is the first stage in a new three-year programme of work in co-operation with the Norwegian Institute for Journalism and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The outline of the programme was agreed at EJN meetings in London and Oslo in December.

On January 15-16th, EJN members and supporters played a role in an important mission to London organised by WAN-IFRA to examine the problems facing journalism in a country where controversies over press regulation and state surveillance of citizens have recently dented its image as a model democracy. Colleagues from Norway, Pakistan, Finland and Denmark were among the international delegation which met with press leaders, journalists and academics and also heard from the EJN Director.

On January 20th in Brussels the EJN will participate in a discussion on the future of journalism and proposals for action to increase resources available to enhance the quality of editorial work. The meeting is organised by the European Magazine Media Association.

The Director will be in Nairobi and Kampala from January 25th to 30th where he will be putting in place arrangements for a meeting in Uganda (and possibly Kigali) in April to focus on the role of journalists in reporting hate speech arising from issues related to community conflict and genocide; reporting on gender issues; and coverage of sexual attitudes in a region where recent legal changes pose new threats to human rights.

The Director is also taking part in a first event on February 3rd being organised by the newly-created Egyptian Editors’ Association in Cairo. The focus will be on the deterioration of editorial standards and the impact on media of recent political upheaval following the eviction of President Morsi last year.

Diary Date:The next meeting of the EJN Network will take place in Brussels from 11.00am on February 20th at the offices of the Association of Commercial Television.

Our next meeting will focus on European Union plans to support media development in South East Europe and Turkey. EJN partners in the region have highlighted the absence of effective media self-regulation and continuing problems caused by weak media markets, political interference and low levels of professional solidarity.

The meeting will also hear from regional experts on priorities for action in a region where many countries struggle to create the conditions for democratic reform — including within media — that will help them gain admission to the European Union.

Meanwhile, EJN co-operation with media groups in the region continues and on December 17th the EJN Director took part in a special meeting organised by the Council of Europe in Budapest to examine developments for self-regulation in Hungary. This co-operation and involvement with the South East Europe Media Observatory will continue in 2014.

The details of all our activities can be found here 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. As always, more information is available from me at aidanpatrickwhite@gmail.com.

Finally, a word of appreciation to Stefanie Chernow, communications, and Oona Solberg, EJN Co-ordinator, who will continue to provide vital support to EJN in the coming year.

As we launch the latest phase of our work, including a decision taken in December to reinforce our legal status and to prepare a strategy for our further development, we owe much to the commitment of a growing group of individuals and organisations dedicated to our core objective to strengthen the craft of journalism.

Best,

Aidan White, EJN Director