|Solidarity in defence of ethics and self-regulation is the key to building public trust in media Europe’s leading media human rights campaigner has told journalists’ leaders ahead of World Press Freedom Day on Tuesday 3 May.
Dunja Mijatović, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe representative for media freedom, said that self-regulation was the only way media can address issues of accountability, transparency and ensuring press freedom.
She urged more than 100 European journalists’ leaders meeting in Sarajevo last week to work together for self-regulation in media to ensure accountability and transparency for their audience.
“It is a very long and, I would say, painful project”, she told delegates at the annual meeting of European Federation of Journalists, representing associations and unions of journalists, but added that it is the only way media can protect their independence. “What is needed is more solidarity and more determination to address these issues.”
The meeting highlighted the need for a focus on self-regulation in Western Balkans. “What I see across the region is polarisation of many associations having different views on these issues,” she said. “But my firm view when it comes to journalism is they should all have the same view.”
She pointed to the successful collaboration between the delegates from Ukraine and Russia who are promoting the idea of “one profession; two countries” as an example of the need for a common commitment to journalism, especially in conflict situations.
On Tuesday, to mark World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO is officially launching a project to strengthen self-regulation in Western Balkans with the Ethical Journalism Network and other partners.
Over the next three years the EJN will be working with press councils, journalists and media support groups to find ways to improve governance and ethical codes at a national level and within key media organisations in the region.
This work has already begun in Kosovo and will go on to cover Albania, Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Turkey.
Mijatović praised the Ethical Journalism Network for its track record of successfully collaborating with her office to improve press freedom in the Western Balkans.
“I am really glad that the EJN exists and works with journalists”, she said, adding that it was important for the European unions and associations to talk open dialogue and explore ways of working with the EJN as it is a position to engage with issues in ways that inter-governmental organizations like the OSCE cannot.
“I do not believe that issues relating to professional conduct of journalists is something that governments need to engage in, especially in countries where there is not a tradition of an independent judiciary.”
There is a need for more international engagement on media monopolies and transparency of ownership across Europe, including within the European Union, she said.
In most cases, it is not a lack of laws enshrining freedom of expression and free press but “zero implementation” of these laws.
Mijatović said the EJN and other organisations had created tools, like the five-point test for hate speech, to help media analyse content and create and implement codes of ethics.
Read the full article here. (EJN)