A new document on freedom of expression and opinion, adopted May 12 by the 28 foreign ministers of the European Union, presses nearly all the right buttons. Drawing its inspiration from international human rights norms as well as from the EU's treaties and its charter of fundamental rights, the document reaffirms the role of freedom of opinion and expression as "an essential foundation for democracy, rule of law, peace, stability, sustainable inclusive development, and participation in public affairs." It also makes a strong case for free and independent journalism. The ministers committed the EU and member states to the defense of journalists' freedom and safety, and endorsed watchdog journalism as a decisive factor in "uncovering abuses of power, shining a light on corruption, and questioning received opinion."
Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt is in China this week to meet with top leaders, according to international news reports. CPJ's Advocacy and Communications Associate Magnus Ag and Senior Asia Program Researcher Madeline Earp co-wrote an op-ed calling on Thorning--as she is called in the Danish press--to raise the issue of press freedom. An edited version ran in the Danish newspaper Politiken today.
Speaking truthfully to China on its repression of human rights can be a tricky endeavor in diplomatic affairs, but Helle Thorning-Schmidt has a prime opportunity to raise press freedom on her trip to China. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not give the issue public priority during their visits earlier this month, but as Thorning meets with top Communist Party leaders and addresses a World Economic Forum meeting in Tianjin, the opportunity must not be wasted.
The celebration Tuesday of the 50th anniversary of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) should have been a joyful and lighthearted affair. Dozens of journalists from all parts of the European Union had traveled to Brussels to share memories, new projects, champagne, and petits fours.
Last week, suspected supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed group listed as a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States, took their confrontation with the Turkish state to Western Europe, attacking the French and German offices of one of Turkey's most influential newspapers, Zaman.
The tension between objective news reporting and advocacy was the subject of the final plenary panel that I moderated last week at the Global Media Forum in Bonn. Sponsored by Germany's multi-language, government broadcast agency, Deutsche Welle, the three-day conference brought together journalists and experts from every continent to address but not necessarily resolve the media's role in covering human rights abuses.
Journalism conferences discussing global trends often
inflate the real but intermittent risks faced by foreign correspondents from
wealthier nations who travel to and report from less stable regions of the
world. They do so at the expense of downplaying if not plain ignoring the much
greater risks faced by local journalists who live in such areas with their
families and report daily for homegrown, regional media. The Deutsche Welle
annual Global Media Forum in
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.