Director’s Letter: May 2014

Dear Friends,

The focus this month is on the Middle East and Asia with activities in Singapore, Jakarta and Doha and the preparation of a busy agenda with EJN partners in both regions.

This month we also launched two 12 country international surveys, one on the effectiveness of self-regulation in journalism and a second that examines the threats to editorial independence when cash-strapped media increase the use of advertorials and “native advertising” and turn a blind eye to corrupt employment practices.

In the Middle East the EJN Director will attend the Aljazeera Forum in Qatar on May 26-28. Earlier this month he was in Doha to meet Middle Eastern journalists in an event organised by the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights he led a discussion on ethics and election reporting.

Next month (June 16-17) the EJN will join the Global Editors Network in Cairo for the formal launch of the Egyptian Editors’ Association. Also in the pipeline are EJN events later this year in Lebanon on ethics and self-regulation and a regional activity on hate speech in co-operation with the Al Sharq Foundation, led by former Aljazeera Chief Wadah Khanfar.

In Asia the EJN Director delivered the opening address to the Asia Journalism Forum (May 16-17) in Singapore. Some of Asia’s leading journalism innovators led a discussion on how to put integrity at the centre of the debate on media futures. Among those taking part were Malaysiakini in Kuala Lumpur, ThaiPublica in Bangkok, the Center for Investigative Journalism in Manila, and the Indonesian Institute of Press and Development Studies.

Next year the Forum will be organised in partnership with EJN and the Tamasek Foundation, which promotes democratic values and pluralism from Singapore, a country much criticised for its lack of respect for human rights and press freedom.

Immediately after the forum the EJN Director visited Jakarta where, in co-operation with the Thomson Foundation and the Press Council of Indonesia, he helped launch a regional training programme for Indonesian journalists and editors covering the Presidential elections.

Next month I will give more information about further EJN work in Asia, but the signs of growing interest in the region have been confirmed by an approach to the EJN this month from the All China Journalists Association (ACJA), the official state body organising media staff in China, which has announced plans to launch an ethics council for Chinese media. The EJN is being asked to help organise a fact-finding mission to Europe on media self-regulation.

Meanwhile, EJN work in Africa continues to strengthen. In Kampala on May 22-23, and in partnership with the International Association of Women in Radio and Television and the African Federation of Journalists, the EJN Africa campaign against hate speech — Turning the Page of Hate — will focus on how media are covering critical social issues such as violence against women and the rights of sexual minorities.

This event, coming only weeks after the shocking kidnapping of young girls at a Nigerian school, provides an opportunity to highlight how journalism plays a crucial role in reporting the reality of the lives of women and girls which is often at odds with distorted media images and stereotypes that can hinder the search for solutions in societies where women are routine victims of discrimination.

In the coming month the EJN will feature at the European University summer school in Florence and will hold a joint event with the European Journalism Centre at the World Association of Newspapers and the World Editors’ Forum meeting in Turin. The Director will also attend a conference of Western Balkan media support groups in Tirana.

Finally, and regrettably, our plans to organise an EJN event at the GEN summit in Barcelona have not worked out this year, but GEN and EJN are working together in support of the newly-formed Independent Editors’ Association. The EJN support group from Norway will hold a solidarity meeting in Cairo in September in support of the new association.

Do keep up to date with EJN activity on the website and subscribe to our newsletter. Follow us on Twitter (@EJNetwork). More information is available from me at [email protected].

Aidan White
EJN Director