Free Press and Open Government Vital for Global Development Say Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists today called upon world business leaders and campaigners for social justice to put press freedom, open government and editorial independence on the campaign agenda to confront the global crisis of poverty and development.

"Freedom of information, editorial independence and open government are critical to building a world order upon principles of democracy, fairness and social justice," says the IFJ in a statement to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and to the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, which both open at the end of this week.

"Informed debate is the lifeblood of democracies. Without it, citizens and decision-makers are powerless, lacking the basic tools for informed participation and representation," says the IFJ. Following its recent report on the 70 journalists and media staff killed world-wide in 2002, the IFJ also calls for international action "to curb governmental interference" in media.

The IFJ also warns over falling media standards and says action is needed to build information networks that command public confidence. The social conditions of media staff and journalists are also highlighted in a specific appeal for international rules to limit the concentration of media ownership in private hands.

"Media organisations must work and be able to work to the highest levels of reliability, quality and respect for human rights," says the IFJ, which seeks a world-wide commitment to building diverse and pluralistic media with the capacity to achieve mass access and diffusion "so that people everywhere have access to accurate and unbiased information sources."

If globalisation is to succeed, there must be widespread respect for human rights, says the IFJ, the world's largest journalists' group, which says global media conglomerates must lead the way. "International corporations, in particular the leaders of the global media economy, must respect human rights in all trade agreements and promote social rights and dialogue within their companies.