Ethical Journalism Network Newsletter – 7 April 2016



The Panama Papers: A Global Triumph for Quality Journalism

It has been a momentous week for the world of journalism. The publication of the Panama Papers this week has demonstrated not just the value of responsible investigative reporting in holding the rich and powerful to account, but that ethical journalism remains a cornerstone of democracy both at home and abroad.

In an unprecedented display of media co-operation many of the world’s leading news organisations have joined forces to break a story that has exposed the secrecy and hypocrisy of people in public life across the globe.

Already the Prime Minister of Iceland and Chile’s head of Transparency International have been forced to resign and a spotlight has been shone one numerous politicians who have sought to hide their wealth and the methods that sanctions on Syria and other countries have been broken. Also under the spotlight are public figures from the world of sport, entertainment and across the spectrum of public life, all of whom are being forced to answer journalists’ legitimate questions about how their wealth has been secretly shipped abroad beyond the reach of tax authorities and hidden from public scrutiny.

The leak of 2.6 terabytes of data in 11.5 million documents which track the movement of billions of dollars over almost four decades, was kept secret for almost a year by over 370 journalists, from over 100 media outlets across the world.

It appears that media and whistleblowers have learnt from the experience of WikiLeaks and previous mass leaks of information. They have acknowledged that just releasing these documents without first carefully editing, distilling and verifying the information contained within them would not be in the public interest.

A mountain of data dumped on the internet is of little use to the public at large unless it is analysed and presented in bite-size chunks and in a context that people can understand.

Journalists have also had to think ethically about publishing some of the information. Media have taken their time to ensure that people who are not in public life do not have their privacy compromised. Publishing information without first considering the impact on those affected by it is potentially reckless.

Read the full article here. (EJN)

A reporter’s ethical dilemma while covering the refugee crisis

Time Magazine’s Simon Shuster explains the ‘humanitarian temptation’ that journalists face when covering the crisis.

Read the full article here. (

For more on the ethics of covering migration read the highlights of our ‘Moving Stories’ report.

Press Release | Foreword | Introduction | Recommendations

ECPMF in Greece: Press freedom violations in the refugee crisis

ECPMF’s reporter on the refugee crisis, Ola Aljari – a refugee herself from Syria – travelled to Greece to speak to both refugees and journalists who are struggling with the current refugee crisis, which seems to have gotten worse as the EU and Turkey agreed upon a questionable deal.

Read the full article here. (European Centre for Press and Media Freedom)

The EJN welcomes Aljari’s work and the ECPMF’s decision to hire her. One of the recommendations from the EJN’s International Review of How Media Cover Migration was for media organisations to “review employment policies to ensure newsroom diversity with reporters and editors from minority communities.”

Read the full list of recommendations here. (EJN)

Ten myths about migration

Writers from the Guardian, Le Monde, El País, Süddeutsche Zeitung and La Stampa address some common claims about migration and assess whether they are true in their country.

Read the full article from October 2014 here. (Guardian)

Why people don’t trust the media

The refugee crisis, the conflict in Ukraine, the truth about people who claim state benefits – there is a growing list of topics and themes that readers and viewers distrust. That claim is not only based on a general sense of unease expressed in social media or everyday conversations. It has been proved by researchers at the University of Leipzig, Germany. And it represents a crisis for press and media freedom. If the audience does not believe in the work of journalists – especially those working in the mainstream media – then it becomes impossible to defend their jobs and their right to criticize, which is essential to democracy.

Read the full article here. (European Centre for Press and Media Freedom)


For more on trust in the media read the EJN’s review of journalism and self-regulation – The Trust Factor. The report found that systems of self-regulation of media and journalism need radical rethinking if they are to survive the harsh economic and political realities of news media in the digital age.


China’s ‘Great Firewall’ blocks its creator

The designer of China’s “Great Firewall” has been mocked online after he reportedly had to bypass the censorship system that he helped create during a public event. Fang Binxing was giving a speech on internet security at the Harbin Institute of Technology when he tried to access a South Korean website, but was blocked by the system, according to the Hong Kong-based Ming Pao website. To continue with his speech, he was forced to set up a virtual private network (VPN) – a common practice used to skirt state censorship – in full view of the audience.

Read the full article here. (BBC)

Digital Paper in China Covers Contentious Issues, Now in English

The Paper is a new media success story in a fast-changing marketplace for news. It covers contentious issues — such as official corruption and a recent scandal involving improperly stored vaccines — with a clutch of digital bells and whistles. Its smartphone app, it says, has been downloaded about 10 million times.

But The Paper is different from BuzzFeed, Vice and other digital voices that have risen up to challenge traditional media: It is overseen by the Chinese Communist Party, prospering at a time when China’s leaders are increasingly restricting what their people read and watch.

Now The Paper’s owner has set its sights elsewhere. On Wednesday it is set to publicly kick off an English-language version called Sixth Tone in hopes of making its recipe for success in China work abroad.

Read the full article here. (New York Times)

The ethics of covering conflicts – Interview with James Rodgers

Former correspondent, James Rodgers tells the Ethical Journalism Network about his views on how to cover armed conflicts, including:
– What ethical problems do journalists face when covering conflict?
– Is objectivity possible when covering conflict?
– How should journalists deal with sensitive subjects and interviewees when covering armed conflicts?
– How should journalists cover armed conflicts ethically?
Watch the interview here.
Read more about the ethics of covering conflicts see our website.

Journalists share their experiences of the dangers and threats in the field

During the conference “News Organizations Standing Up for the Safety of Media Professionals”, held on 5 February 2016, close to 300 media leaders and representatives of Member States from every region in the world gathered at UNESCO Headquarters. They shared good newsroom practices and experiences to improve the safety of journalists and end impunity towards crimes committed against media professionals. Solutions were put forward to respond to the emerging dangers and threats that are affecting the lives of journalists worldwide.

In this video, three of the participants speak about their direct experiences with dangers and threats against journalists. Jesus Dureza, Publisher of the Mindanao Times and President of the Philippine Press Institute, shares examples of these threats and stresses the need for global cooperation of all actors involved in media. Hassan Ali Gesey discusses the challenges of his daily professional life as a radio director in Somalia, and Abeer Saady from Egypt experiences the issues from both sides: she is a journalist in the Middle-East, and also trains journalists on how to protect themselves when reporting in dangerous areas.

The UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, led by UNESCO, served as framework for the conference. The UN Plan recognizes that journalists’ safety needs a multi-stakeholder approach, and it identifies news organizations as one of the major stakeholders in improving the safety of journalists.

Watch the video in English here. (UNESCO)

Watch the video French (UNESCO)

Read the EJN summary of the event here. (EJN)

ABS confident of public trust in Census despite boycott campaign

Calls for a boycott of this year’s Census continue to bounce around the community, spread mainly through social media, and could endanger the valuable project depending on how many people actually follow through.

The explicit promotion of a boycott followed trenchant criticism of the decision to retain names and addresses collected with this year’s Census, led by former Australian Statistician Bill McLennan on March 9 in The Australian Financial Review.

Read the full article here. (The Mandarin)


Social Newsgathering Ethics Code

Last week the Online News Association launched a Social Newsgathering Ethics Code giving guidance to journalists about how to gather, distribute and use social news content. The Ethical Journalism Network, Fresco News and Verifeye Media gave their support to the code this week.

If your organisation would like to join BBC, CNN,, Storyful and others as a supporter of the code, contact the ONA via


EJN presents migration report to Global Journalism Masters students at NLA University College in Norway

On 7 April 2016 EJN Co-ordinator Oona Solberg will present the findings of the EJN’s recent ‘Moving Stories’ report, which reviews how international media cover migration to Global Journalism Masters students at NLA University College (Gimlekollen) in Kristiansand in the south of Norway.

The foreword, introduction, recommendation and press release of the report are available in both English and Norwegian:


Forord | Introduksjon | Anbefalinger | Pressmelding


Press Release | Foreword | Introduction | Recommendations