14th July 2021
By Wendy Collinson

Independent But Not Free – an EJN panel discussion

What are the ethical challenges to independent journalists who report on authoritarian regimes which suppress a free press? How do such regimes try to portray independent journalists as enemies of the state? Four leading journalists who’ve worked in Myanmar, Belarus, China and Iran reveal their experiences.

This is a podcast recording of a major international event organised by the Ethical Journalism Network which was held on Wednesday 26 May 2021.



The event was chaired by Ayshah Tull, award-winning reporter for Channel 4 News and EJN Trustee, and our panel included:

Hanna Liubakova is a freelance journalist and researcher from Belarus who produces in-depth multimedia and interactive reporting with Outsiders. She began her career as correspondent and presenter for Belsat, the only independent Belarusian TV Channel, and has won several major awards.

Aye Min Thant is a Burmese-American journalist who has covered business, politics, and conflict in Myanmar, Thailand, and the United States. Aye holds degrees in gender studies anthropology, and Asian studies. They won a Pulitzer Prize in 2019 as part of the Reuters team covering the Rohingya crisis and its aftermath. They have been reporting on the military coup in Myanmar from Thailand in order to avoid arrest.

Melissa Chan is a journalist who focuses on transnational issues, often involving China’s influence beyond its borders. She has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Time, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, and more. As a contributor with the Vancouver-based Global Reporting Centre, she investigates the complexities of global trade and its costs on ordinary people. As a television journalist, she has worked with the award-winning Al Jazeera Fault Lines series, VICE News Tonight out of Europe, and served as China Correspondent with Al Jazeera English before her expulsion from the country for the channel’s reports. Her work there received two Human Rights Press Awards from Amnesty International, a citation from the Overseas Press Club, and she has been listed in Foreign Policy’s Pacific Power Index, a list of 25 people shaping the future of US-China relations.

Rana Rahimpour is a reporter and presenter with the BBC World Service, covering Iranian politics. She has anchored and covered many major Iranian and international stories for the network, including Iran’s nuclear programme, Iran’s Presidential elections 2009 and its aftermath both for BBC Persian television and BBC World Service and the Iranian Presidential election of 2013.

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