Director’s Letter: September 2015

Dear Friends,

The issue of migration was on front pages around the world in September with much focus on the tragic picture of Aylan Kurdi, the child who tragically drowned as his family fled the war in Syria. This picture became an iconic image of the human tragedy in the Middle East migration crisis and posed many ethical questions for newsrooms.

The EJN also raised the issue (see here) and examined the editorial dilemmas facing media – particularly against the backdrop of political challenges in Europe and elsewhere.

The EJN report on media and migration is now being prepared and will be launched in December around International Migrant Day – December 18.

During September the EJN made a presentation at the Newsweek Media Summit in Belgrade where discussion focused on the battle for editorial independence in a hostile political environment.

On September 9 the EJN Director met in Istanbul with independent journalists and media leaders from Syria to advise on the preparation of a new Ethical Charter for Syrian Media. This has been prepared by more than 20 independent media both inside and outside the war-torn country. The EJN is also assisting the group to launch an Ethical Media Association which is planned to get off the ground next year.

The EJN took part in the world congress of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television which took place in Delhi on September 14-18. The Director made a presentation of EJN work and proposed new joint initiatives. Arising from the meeting the EJN is planning to organize events in Kolkata and Chennai with major universities to promote ethical actions against hate-speech in Indian media.

The EJN Director took part in a meeting in Vienna at the headquarters of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe where the theme was the threats facing women journalists and women who feature in the news who are victims of online abuse. The meeting highlighted the menace of online misogyny and considered possible responses. In the coming year the EJN plans to prepare a manual on how journalists can combat hate-speech. The issue of violent abuse from online sources will be covered.

In September the EJN confirmed that we will hold a series of lectures in co-operation with City University London. These lectures, which will be open to students, journalists and members of the public, will highlight the importance of ethical journalism in building a culture of responsibility in public communications.

On September 22 the EJN Director made a presentation to law students at the University of Oslo and took part in a seminar organized by the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights where the theme was combatting hate-speech ten years after the free expression crisis prompted by the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed by the newspaper Jyllands Posten.

The EJN hosted its first live-streaming Google Hangout discussion on September 25, which was entitled “Are There Any Limits To Freedom of Expression?”. The event was moderated by the EJN Communications Officer Stefanie Chernow and participants included the EJN Director and Annette Young from the programme The 51 Percent on France 24. The full debate covering themes of migration, terrorism, and misogyny can be found on the EJN Youtube channel.

On September 29 the EJN Director met at The Guardian in London with a group of journalists, editors and media leaders from the Western Balkans to discuss the upcoming programme in the region.

As usual, keep up to date with EJN activity on the website 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