Journalists' leaders from the Mediterranean region gathered in Tangiers, Morocco on 15-17 February to discuss the deepening economic crisis, particularly in Greece and Spain, as well as the future of journalism in countries like Tunisia and Egypt which are in the grip of political upheaval.
"This was a tremendous opportunity for our colleagues to exchange their experiences on the impact of the global economic crisis and the region's political developments are having on journalism," said Jim Boumelha, President of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), who helped open the conference. "We believe the implementation of the recommendations will steer our profession through these troubled times."
Participants at the opening ceremony were addressed by Youssef Amrani, Minister-delegate for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, IFJ Senior Vice-President Younes M'Jahed, and Franco Siddi, General Secretary of the Federazione Nazionale della Stampa Italiana.
The conference held under the theme "Changing Media in a Changing Society" and hosted by the Tangiers branch of the IFJ syndicate in Morocco, the Syndicat national de la presse marocaine (SNPM), opened with presentations by experts, academics and trade unionists on the challenges confronting public service broadcasting and the battles waged by IFJ unions to save and strengthen public values.
The debates went on to unravel the never-ending media crisis and its impact on issues including funding of journalism, the protection of jobs, the security of journalists, the promotion of professional journalism as well as solidarity and trust among journalists in the region.
The participants adopted a Declaration containing journalists' proposals to overcome challenges facing media. It called for solidarity with unions in countries hard hit by the crisis such as Croatia, Spain, Italy and Greece, where journalists' unions have been at the forefront of the battles to oppose job cuts and defend decent working conditions. The Declaration singled out the importance of unions to protect journalists against unscrupulous editors and to coordinate the campaign for quality journalism and working conditions across the region.
The Declaration further underscored the need to promote the security of journalists and called on the IFJ to reinforce its work in this area, and on governments to implement international law which provides for protection of journalists covering armed conflicts.
The Declaration also commits journalists and their unions to defending professional journalism, its ethics and the democratic values which underpin it.
The conference agreed to promote dialogue and solidarity among journalists' organisations in the region to prevent divisions based on political rivalries which undermine joint efforts to defend unions' rights. In this regard, the Declaration endorses the appeal from the SNPM branch in Tangiers for the establishment of a Mediterranean research centre to promote dialogue between media professionals in the region.
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The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries