EJN Annual Report 2013:
Journalism in the Digital Age
This report on the 2013 programme of the Ethical Journalism Network covers a period of intense activity following the launch of the Network in 2012. Building on the success of the launch year the EJN focused in developing a manifesto to better understand the role of journalism in the digital age.
The EJN has firmly established itself as an expert voice on critical issues concerning ethics, good governance and self-regulation of media and journalism. During the year the Network has carried out activities in Egypt, Tunisia, Myanmar, Costa Rica, Hungary, Indonesia, Turkey and Pakistan, as well as regional support work particularly in South East Europe.
The report outlines the activities of the EJN in targeted regions and covers all activities planned and executed with the support of a grant from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It describes the full calendar of events and actions of the EJN in 2013.
During the year the EJN took further steps to strengthen the craft of journalism and to build public trust in media. The achievements of the network during the past months can be summarised as follows:
1. To launch a policy document – What We Stand For – that clarifies the role and responsibilities of journalism in the context of the open information landscape.
2. To initiate a global debate on these issues at major media professional events in Tunis, Bangkok, Hanoi, Costa Rica, Brussels, London, New York and Paris.
3. To assist Tunisian media leaders on a ground-breaking proposal to launch an independent self-regulating press council.
4. To support and help launch the first media-credibility index for assessing editorial performance in Pakistan media.
5. To assist and support editors across all media platforms in Egypt to organize and to launch their own independent association.
6. To carry out a mission to Turkey to support local media and journalists in their struggle to maintain editorial independence in the face of political pressure.
7. To support press councils in Myanmar, Indonesia and Pakistan and to promote a discussion about the need for co-operation between press councils worldwide.
8. To help reinforce standards and rules about the need for higher standards of ethical journalism at election times and to highlight the dangers of hate-speech.
9. To launch a targeted report on a media case-study, Innocent Mistakes, covering Turkey, the United States, Pakistan and the United Kingdom on how media can inadvertently contribute to misinformation used to incite violence and hate.
10. To prepare two major global surveys to be carried out in 2015 on a) the effectiveness of self-regulation in media and b) the impact of internal corruption on the ethical and governance of media and journalism.
Additionally, in 2013 the Network took the first steps towards consolidation of its status by registering as a non-profit company in the United Kingdom.
The EJN has increased its membership and engaged in high-level discussions on media policy development at national and international level and has continued to develop practical tools designed to assist journalists and media professionals.
During this year the Network wound up its formal association with the Global editors Network and signed a co-operation agreement for administrative support with the Norwegian Institute for Journalism with effect from January 1st 2014. Our Founding Statutes were also amended (See above PDF).
The Network held meetings in Brussels in September 2013 and in London in December 2013 at which a draft of plans for the coming three years were endorsed. The EJN carried out a members’ survey during the year to identify priorities for action in the coming years. The results of the Survey are attached (See above PDF).
The EJN web site was launched during 2013 and has attracted widespread support with almost 1000 subscribers in more than 60 countries. An editorial board of acknowledged media experts advises the Director on ethical and policy questions.
During 2013 the EJN Director met three times with representatives of professional associations in Norway and established a Norwegian consultative and advisory group which has contributed advice and support on the development of the EJN programme.
The EJN continues to work closely with the agencies of the United Nations, including UNESCO, the office of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, and the UN Human Rights Commission particularly on issues of hate speech and xenophobia.
The issue of hate-speech and the dangers of misinformation led to the publication of Innocent Mistakes, in May 2013. This detailed report produced by journalists in Turkey, Pakistan, the United States and the United Kingdom examined how media handled coverage of the controversial film Innocence of Muslims. The report revealed serious ethical failures in coverage which may have contributed to incitement to religious violence organized by political extremists following the release of this online video in July 2012.
Photo credit: “News” by Dimitris Kalogeropoylos licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0