How media can help to build democracy? Three initiatives for social change

The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) EU Office organised yesterday (26/04/2017) a meeting about media and its role for democracy in Europe. The international experts presented new initiatives for social change and talked about how media can help to build democracy and how to deal with hate speech, racism and lack of diversity in European newsrooms. “The misconception that news should be free is a great danger to democracy. News and journalists who write the news must be paid,” stressed Birgit Sippel, German member of the European Parliament. “If the media only relies on the advertiser’s funds,…

Germany: A draft law to counter hate speech would threaten freedom of expression

The German affiliate of the European Federation of Journalists, the Deutscher Journalisten-verband (DJV) co-signed a “Declaration on Freedom of Expression” in response to the adoption of the Network Enforcement Law („Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz”) by the German Federal Cabinet on April 5, 2017, supposed to be adopted by the German Bundestag in the summer. With this declaration, the 18 German organisations expressed their concerns about the negative effects of such a law – aiming to force social media sites to delete hate speech and fake news – on public discourse and freedom of expression in Germany. They fear that platform operators will delete or block…

The Council of Europe’s Assembly voted to re-open monitoring procedure against Turkey

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has today (25/04/2017) voted to re-open the monitoring procedure on the functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey. The re-opened exceptional procedure was closed in 2004. The adopted resolution notes that “with respect to freedom of the media and of expression, the Assembly is alarmed by the repeated violations of freedom of the media, the large number of journalists currently detained and the pressure exerted on critical journalists, which is unacceptable in a democratic society. Council of Europe member States have a positive obligation to ensure freedom of expression, protection of journalists and…

EFJ’s plea to save Public Service Media in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has initiated a call backed by the international community, including the EBU (European Broadcasting Union), to save public service media (PSM) in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Urgent measures need to be taken to secure adequate and sustainable funding for PSM in BiH. It has been almost a year since the previous model for collecting the licence fee – through telephone bills –  expired. The two telecoms operators in BiH, Bhtelecom and M:tel, have been voluntarily collecting the fee for PSM ever since but this is now under threat and, this month, the amount of funding collected via this…

Council of Europe documents unwarranted interference, fear, self-censorship

In many European countries journalists are under pressure, facing a variety of threats from governments, bosses and advertisers. The Council of Europe is marking World Press Freedom Day by underlining its support for independent journalism, free from unwarranted influence whatever the source. Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland is publishing his annual report on the state of democracy and human rights in Europe. This year he focuses on several new topics, including the rise of populism and the spreading of fake news. Also published today, a new survey sponsored by the Council of Europe into the prevalence of unwarranted…

Media : tool or challenge for democracy in Europe ?

In times of political gambling, minorities become the scapegoating target of populist leaders. In name of the freedom of expression, racist discourses are legitimised by the electorate choice of right-wing representation in the structures of power. Although some discourses are becoming obsolete, media magnifies the stereotypes and can influence the negative perceptions largely and inaccurately promoted and which is yet reinforced by strong political discourse. But (new) media can also be an instrument for mobilization, participation and change. How is media helping to build democracy and a new narrative for Europe? And how to tackle hate speech, racism and underrepresentation…

Russia: IFJ/EFJ express their condolences following death of journalist Nicolay Andrushchenko

The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ) have joined the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) in expressing their deepest condolences to the newspaper Noviy Petersburg after the death of its investigative journalist and co-founder of the newspaper Nicolay Andrushchenko who died on 19 April in Mariinsky hospital at the age of 73. The IFJ has also backed calls for a full investigation in to his death. Andruschenko was a prominent journalist famous for his investigative reporting on such dangerous topics as local crime, corruption, and police brutality. He was reported to have been severely beaten by unidentified…

Freelance journalist facing alone lawsuits after publication of articles on Italian businessman

Petra Reski, female journalist and author of several books, recently published as freelancer for Freitag magazine some articles on the relations of an Italian businessman operating in Germany. The businessman accused of being member of the Italian maffia launched lawsuits against the journalist who did not received support from Freitag magazine based on the argument that “redaction are not legal protection insurance against inadequate research work”. The freelancer felt let down by “Freitag” magazine. The German union Verdi couldn’t support her financially for technical reasons as to receive legal support from the union, a journalist is asked to contact the…

Joint Letter to Ms. Mogherini and Mr. Tusk regarding extension of Turkey’s state of emergency in a context of grave human rights violations

Ms Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Mr Donald Tusk, President of the European Council cc: Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union and EU ambassadors to Turkey 20 April 2016 Object: Extension of Turkey’s state of emergency in a context of grave human rights violations Dear HR/VP Federica Mogherini, Dear President Donald Tusk, EuroMed Rights, European Federation of Journalists, Front Line Defenders, Index on Censorship and World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) are deeply concerned by the Turkish government’s decision to extend the state of emergency…

Armenia: Radio Free Europe journalist attacked reporting on fraudulent activities during elections

The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ) have condemned an attack on Armenian correspondent Sisak Gabrielian by activists of the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) while he was covering parliamentary elections in Yerevan on 2 April, 2017. Reporting for the Armenian service of Radio Free Europe (RFE) during the parliamentary elections, Sisak Gabrielian was hit in the face by one of the ruling HHK party activists and forced out of the office by polling station attendants after having noticed and started filming alleged fraudulent activities. According to the RFE Armenian service, Gabrielian noticed that many residents voting…

Russia: “Novaya Gazeta” journalists threatened by Chechen religious and public leaders

UPDATE (19.04.2017): Newspaper Novaya Gazeta received today an envelope containing an unidentified white powder. The envelope’s return address was “Grozny,” the capital of Chechnya, where preachers and political officials have recently threatened the newspaper for reporting on the alleged torture and detention of men suspected of homosexuality. ——————— The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ) have joined their Russian affiliate, the Russian Union of Journalists (the RUJ), in expressing their concern over serious threats by religious and  public opinion leaders in Chechnya against journalists and media staff at Novaya Gazeta, the leading independent newspaper in Russia. The…

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