The International Federation of Journalists, the world’s largest journalists’ group, today called on next week’s UN World Conference Against Racism in South Africa to keep government hands off media, but to support a new global information strategy to combat racism world-wide.
“The Conference provides an unprecedented opportunity to combat the threat to peace and democracy from increasing racial violence,” says the IFJ, which is calling on governments to denounce those who try to use journalism for propaganda or incitement to racial and ethnic violence.
The IFJ said governments should recognise that media’s role, when reporting race issues, is primarily to raise awareness of the impact of racism and intolerance and applauds news that attempts to write codes of conduct for journalists have been abandoned.
“We call on the World Conference to reaffirm that governments have no proper role to play in the regulation of media content and journalistic ethics,” says the IFJ, which endorses plans to encourage new initiatives from within journalism to frame and implement effective ethical guidelines that will raise awareness within media.
The IFJ accuses some media organisations for falling media standards: “commercial interests too often dictate today’s news agenda in a way that is damaging to journalism in support of citizenship, tolerance and democracy” and calls on the Conference to support journalists who act to “reassert the core principles of professional quality and independence in journalism”.
“Special attention must be paid to creating editorial independence for journalists and restoring public service values in media, “says the IFJ which calls for a new global information strategy, including:
- A global campaign to raise awareness among journalists;
- Structures for industry dialogue and the creation of a global network against racism involving journalists, editors and media employers;
- Support for editorial independence and effective self-regulation;
- Recruitment of more people from ethnic communities into journalism;
- More resources for media training on tolerance issues.