Alan Rusbridger opens the Ethical Journalism Network’s international media ethics magazine with an urgent call for strong and independent journalism
The Ethical Journalism Network launches its annual magazine on international media ethics this week with an urgent call for strong and independent journalism in the face of global challenges and changes to our industry.
‘Saving the News: Ethics and the fight for the future of journalism’, considers the difficulties faced by journalists in countries including Jordan, Kenya, Honduras, the Philippines and South Sudan. It also highlights the emergence of signs that point to a more ethically sound future for media practitioners.
EJN Chair Dorothy Byrne, introduces the report, by writing:
“Without strong and independent journalism you can’t have a free society. The lies of some of those populist politicians whose tirades captured so much of the public imagination over the last year are being found out; the public around the world are also waking up to the fact that much of what they see on social media is piffle.
Byrne, who is head of news and current affairs at Channel 4 in the UK, goes on to say:
“If journalists have, perhaps, been too slow to stand up for the importance of our trade and too defensive, journalists across the globe are now speaking out more strongly in support of how vital truthful, ethical journalism is to society.”
The EJN’s new CEO Hannah Storm will host a panel to launch the magazine at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia on April 6th. She will be joined by fellow contributors, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, Alan Rusbridger and James Ball, as well as Lina Ejeilat, executive editor independent Jordanian news and current affairs website, 7iber.
Writing in the foreword, Rusbridger, who was the editor-in-chief of the Guardian, makes a heartfelt plea for higher ethical standards.
“We’ve moved from an age of information scarcity to one of almost infinite plurality. Only those with the highest professional and ethical standards will rise above the oceans of mediocrity and malignity and survive.”
“Set aside the politics and ask, what message do we want a sceptical public to believe about journalism? Is it primarily a craft of verification or opinion? Is it there to give a factual basis for debates society needs to have or is it there to push the beliefs of an individual proprietor or editor?”
The publication covers a variety of themes related to media ethics, including safety, gender, self-regulation and technology, and explores some of the pressures and opportunities faced by journalists in politically sensitive settings.
Former EJN Director Chris Elliott and founder Aidan White tackle the difficult questions of how journalists should work in an authoritarian environment, what can, and should, journalists do, and not do, while working under regimes, which think press freedom is a dangerous ideal.
Ethics in the newsroom
In her essay, Ejeilat considers what it means to be a ‘progressive, professional, and critical,’ media outlet and how through embracing self-reflection and self-regulation, her team at 7iber can prove to its audience that it really does ‘walk the walk’ in an environment where there are significant challenges.
Ethics through the lens
Raffy Lerma, the distinguished Filipino photojournalist, explores whether he was inadvertently being manipulated by the State to send a message when he documented President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’, as well as discussing some of the other dilemmas he has faced. He writes:
“There are journalists in the Philippines who believe that these alleged drug pushers and addicts should be killed without being given due process. Unfortunately, not everyone believes that these victims have the same basic human rights as they do.”
Salim Amin, son of the legendary photojournalist ‘Mo’ Amin, looks at how technology can be used to undermine the authenticity of images and talks about the biases that determine how Africa is depicted by Western media, particularly after the recent terrorist attacks in Nairobi.
Ethics and safety
South Sudanese journalist Gai Alier John writes about ethical journalism’s struggle for survival in the world’s newest nation. Wendy Funes, an award-winning investigative journalist in Honduras, writes about what it is like to work in one of the most dangerous countries in the world for news media and considers the specific threats women face.
Ethics and gender
Hannah Storm, who became the EJN’s new director this week, explains why gender should be on the agenda in every newsroom, writing:
“We cannot have truly ethical journalism, until gender is on the agenda in a fair and sensitive way, in newsroom practices: be that in the people we hire, retain and promote, or in the work we produce…. Gender is not just a women’s issue.
We all benefit from rejecting harmful stereotypes, clichés, and prejudice. We all gain from greater balance and context, and from amplifying the voices and experiences of vulnerable communities which have traditionally been marginalised.”
Ethics and journalism in Trump’s America
The magazine has two reports from the US, where President Trump has called journalists as ‘the enemy of the people’, rhetoric that has endangered our colleagues in a country previously known as a bastion of press freedom.
Alison Bethel McKenzie, executive director of the Society of Professional Journalists and Tom Kent, the former standards editor of the Associated Press explore journalists are fighting back and how this has started a welcome new debate about ethics.
Ethics and technology
As the tech giants garner an ever-increasing share of advertising revenues, news media across the world face an existential threat. Aidan White charts the backlash against ‘big tech’ and argues that governments are finally waking up to the threat to a healthy, open and democratic society.
But is legislation the answer? James Ball strikes a more cautious tone, pointing to the potential dangers of rushing to new laws on copyright, or fighting misinformation.
Ethics and solutions
The EJN’s Tom Law reflects on the EJN’s fellowship scheme with the International Labour Organization, which aims to give journalists a different way to cover the usually negative stories of labour migrants in Jordan, Lebanon and the Gulf.
Ethics and hate speech
We also have reports on approaches to dealing with hate speech in the Caribbean and the Middle East, as well as countering Islamophobia in Spanish media.
The magazine will be launched at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia on Saturday 6 April and at the Frontline Club in London on 8 April.
EJN Contact details:
Tom Law – EJN Deputy Director
The chapters of the report will be available at these links from 8am GMT on 6 April 2018.
- Introduction – Dorothy Byrne
- Foreword – Alan Rusbridger
- When ethics can cost a journalist work, liberty and even life? – Aidan White and Chris Elliott
- Honduras: Women in the front line of journalism – Wendy Funes
- Impunity and intimidation: The muzzling of independent journalism in South Sudan – Gai Alier John
- Mexico: What is the media’s role in the midst of multiple murder and mayhem – Elva Narcia
- Gender on the agenda for the future of ethical journalism – not just for women – Hannah Storm
- Journalism, activism and the fight for migrant rights – Tom Law
- Ethics through the lens: Photographing The Drug War In The Philippines – Raffy Lerma
- Fear trumping the First Amendment in the US – Alison Bethel McKenzie
- Ethics holds the key in the battle against Trump attack on journalists – Tom Kent
- Verification and deep fakes: The Ethics of Modern Photojournalism – Salim Amin
- Hate by omission silence and exclusion: A Caribbean Perspective – Dr Zahera Harb
- Islamophobia in Spain in 2019 – Felipe Maraña Marcos
- Monitoring and addressing hate speech in Arab media – Aida Al-Kaisy
- Walking the walk: What does it mean to be a progressive media outlet? – Lina Ejeilat
- The dark clouds over us: An Editor’s view of the state of the media in Kosovo and the wider region of South-East Europe – Agron Bajrami
- Good news for journalism in the backlash against Big Tech – Aidan White
- Good law or seriously flawed: The hidden threats in taming tech by law – James Ball
Launch events for the EJN magazine 2019
April 6 – International Journalism Festival, Perugia – 11am
Sala delle Colonne, Palazzo Graziani
April 8 – Frontline Club, London – 7pm
In the seventh of the EJN’s “Ethics in the News” events at the Frontline Club, we have brought together authors from the EJN’s latest report to discuss ethics and the key challenges in fighting for the future of journalism. Chaired by Dorothy Byrne, Head of News and Current Affairs at Channel 4, the discussion will feature Salim Amin, Aidan White, Chris Elliott and incoming EJN CEO, Hannah Storm.
April 10 – OSCE meeting Freedom of Expression, Free Media and Information, The Hofberg, Vienna – 9:30am to 13:00pm.
This session at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe will focus on how to address disinformation and misinformation. The EJN’s Tom Law will address the session, which will be opened by Harlem Désir the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.
About the Ethical Journalism Network
The Ethical Journalism Network is an alliance of reporters, editors and publishers aiming to strengthen journalism around the world. We work to build trust in news media through training; education and research because we believe that fact-based communications delivered by well-trained and ethical media professionals are essential to help people better understand the world around them.
The EJN is a coalition of more than 70 groups of journalists, editors, press owners and media support groups from across the globe and we are growing.
We are a registered UK charity and supervised by a Board of Trustees and an international network of advisors.
For more information about our team and our list of advisers see:
For details about our network of the supporters see: https://ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/supporters
As an educational charity, this report, like all of the EJN’s resources is available for free. If you would like to donate to the EJN or find other ways for support our work, visit: https://ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/support
Agron Bajrami is the Editor in Chief of Koha Ditore, the largest daily newspaper in Kosovo. Bajrami filled various journalistic and editing positions at the newspaper since its establishment in 1997, and took over as Editor in Chief in September 2004. Bajrami is also the head of the Kosovo Media Institute, and a regular columnist for Montenegrin daily newspaper Vijesti.
Aida Al-Kaisy is a media reform advisor and EJN Programmes Consultant. She has worked extensively on media development projects across the Middle East and North Africa. Al-Kaisy is completing a PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where she also teaches on media in conflict.
Aidan White is the Founder and President of the Ethical Journalism Network. White founded the EJN in 2012 after he left the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) where he was General Secretary for 25 years. He has written extensively on human rights, ethics and journalism issues and played a leading role in establishing International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), a global network of free expression campaigners and the International News Safety Institute (INSI).
Alan Rusbridger was editor-in-chief of Guardian News and Media between 1995 and 2015. He is now Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford and chair of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Rusbridger’s career began at the Cambridge Evening News before he joined the Guardian in 1979. During his tenure, The Guardian’s journalism won multiple awards, including being nominated newspaper of the year five times between 1996 and 2006. Rusbridger has been named editor of the year three times.
Alison Bethel McKenzie is Executive Director of the Society of Professional Journalists, based in the United States. Celebrating its 110th anniversary, it is the oldest and largest broad-based, membership journalism organisation in America. The SPJ Code of Ethics is widely used by journalists throughout the US and around the world. Bethel McKenzie is an adviser to the EJN.
Chris Elliott served as the readers’ editor at The Guardian having been appointed managing editor in February 2000. Elliott has worked as the home affairs correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph, chief reporter for the Sunday Correspondent and assistant news editor for the Times. He has also served on the board of the International News Safety Institute (INSI) and the Nomination Committee of the Reuters Founders Share Company until 2015. He chaired the UK’s major journalism training body, between 2010 and 2016. Elliott was the EJN’s interim CEO and Director from April 2018 to April 2019 and has now returned to his role as a trustee.
Dorothy Byrne is Head of News and Current Affairs at Channel Four Television. Films she has commissioned have won numerous International Emmy, BAFTA and RTS awards. She is a Fellow of The Royal Television Society and in 2018 won the Outstanding Contribution Award at the Royal Television Society Journalism awards. She has also been awarded Scottish BAFTA and Women in Film and Television awards. Byrne is a Visiting Professor at Leicester De Montfort University and in 2018 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Sheffield University. Byrne is the chair of the EJN.
Elva Narcia is a journalist and media development specialist who has worked in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Norway, Pakistan, UK, Spain and South Sudan. After more than twenty years living and working overseas, she returned to Mexico, and founded Glifos Comunicaciones A.C – a media for development social enterprise – and launched a women´s national network to promote and encourage female civic and political participation. For 15 years she was a senior journalist with the BBC World Service. Narcia is an adviser to the EJN.
Felipe Maraña Marcos (Pen name: Felipe Sahagún) is a journalist and editorial advisor to El Mundo newspaper in Spain and professor of International Relations at the Complutense University of Madrid.
Gai Alier John, who often writes under the pen name John Actually, has worked as a journalist for the Sudan Radio Service, The New Nation newspaper, and the Sudan Tribune news website. He is the former communications officer for the Catholic Relief Service and is now a master degree student at Uganda Christian University in Kampala.
Hannah Storm became the new Director and CEO of the Ethical Journalism Network in April 2019. Storm, joined the International News Safety Institute (INSI) in 2010, becoming its director in 2012. Before joining INSI, Storm spent more than a decade working as a journalist for television and radio, online and print for outlets including the BBC, The Times, Reuters and ITN, and Oxfam.
James Ball has worked in political, data and investigative journalism in the US and UK for BuzzFeed, The Guardian and the Washington Post in a career spanning TV, digital, print and alternative media. His reporting has won the Pulitzer Prize for public service, the Scripps Howard Prize, the British Journalism Award for investigative reporting. His latest book, “Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered The World” was published in 2017.
Lina Ejeilat is a co-founder and Executive Editor of 7iber, an award-winning online magazine that publishes in-depth multimedia content and critical analysis on Jordan and the Arab region. She holds an M.S in Journalism from Columbia University in New York. Ejeilat teaches Digital Media at the Jordan Media Institute and regularly leads workshops and training programs on multimedia journalism in Jordan and across the Arab region. From 2009-2011, Lina worked as a reporter with Thomson Reuters in Amman, Jordan.
Wendy Funes won the Index on Censorship Award for her fearless pursuit of investigative journalism in Honduras in 2018. Working for C-Libre, a freedom of expression organisation in Honduras, she has highlighted the continued murder of journalists. On May 31, 2017 Funes retired from C-Libre to found her own research newspaper and promote investigative journalism in her country, using data with a gendered approach and promoting transparency and access to public information.
Raffy Lerma is a freelance photographer who focuses on documenting the “war on drugs” in the Philippines. He began his career in photojournalism as a student of the College of Fine Arts in the University of the Philippines Diliman and finished his Diploma in Photojournalism at the Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University. For 12 years, Lerma worked as a staff photographer for Philippine Daily Inquirer covering the daily news beat in Metro Manila.
Salim Amin is Chairman of Camerapix, Chairman of The Mohamed Amin Foundation and co-founder and former Chairman of Africa24 Media. Amin’s father was Mohamed “Mo” Amin MBE, a Kenyan photojournalist noted for his pictures and videotapes of the Ethiopian famine that led to the Live Aid concert. He is a Fellow of the African Leadership Initiative and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. In December 2012, Salim was named as one of the “100 Most Influential Africans” by the New African magazine, which also named him in their “top 50 Under 50” Africans in May 2013. Amin is a trustee of the EJN.
Tom Kent is the former Standards Editor, Moscow bureau chief, international editor, and deputy managing editor of the Associated Press news agency. After working for AP for over four decades, Kent was the president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty from 2016 to 2018. Kent is an adviser to the EJN.
Tom Law is the deputy director of the EJN, which he joined in 2015 to lead the organisation’s international media ethics campaigns and educational programmes. Prior to joining the EJN Law worked as a freelance journalist and media development consultant specialising in Sudan and South Sudan and for four years was an associate editor of Sudan Tribune news website. In 2005 he was part of the team that founded The Juba Post – an independent newspaper for South Sudan.
Dr Zahera Harb is a Senior Lecturer in International Journalism at City, University of London and associate editor of Journalism Practice. Dr Harb has more than 11 years experience as a journalist in Lebanon, working for Lebanese and international media organisations. She was a member of Ofcom’s content board from December 2015 to December 2018. Dr Harb is a trustee of the EJN.