The International Federation of Journalists will announce a worldwide programme of journalism prizes to focus attention on reporting that highlights tolerance and exposes racism at the United Nations Conference Against Racism next week.
Journalists from five regions where ethnic conflict and other forms of discrimination form part of the regular news agenda will compete for Journalism for Tolerance prizes that "promote excellence in reporting and illustrate all that is best in independent journalism", says Aidan White, General, Secretary of the IFJ who will be attending the UN Conference in South Africa.
"Too often media are manipulated to suit the intolerant or racist agenda of extremists, but the prize for tolerance will show that journalists play a positive role when they are left alone to get on with their job without interference."
White will join Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson and United States veteran campaigner Jesse Jackson in a round table on Wednesday in Durban on the role of media in the fight against racism. He says that media organisations and working journalists have to counter media critics by joining together to highlight the work of thousands of unsung journalists who strive to report fairly and professionally, often in hostile conditions.
The Journalism for Tolerance Prize programme, which is supported by the European Union, will be launched on January 1st and will give journalists an opportunity to applaud best practices in the newsroom. "It is a programme driven by the ideals of journalism and organised by journalists themselves," said Aidan White.
"We aim to stimulate debate within media about the importance of quality journalism. Above all, media professionals need to be aware of the impact that their words and images can have on societies where divisions exist."
The Journalism for Tolerance prizes will be awarded initially for two years to journalists in Latin America, West Africa, East and Southern Africa, South Asia and South East Asia but the IFJ hopes to extend the programme to all corners of the world.