IFJ Leaders Address Russian Journalists’ Festival

The Russian Union of Journalists, an affiliate of the IFJ, opened on Thursday night its annual festival of journalism in Dagomys, Sochi, at a launch ceremony attended by journalists, media professionals including editors and employers, academics and trade unions leaders. IFJ president Jim Boumelha, IFJ executive committee member and Italian journalists’ leader Franco Siddi, Bulgarian journalists union’s general secretary Snezhana Todorova, and OSCE representative Aidar Botagarov headed the opening ceremony of the 18th festival of journalism on the theme of “Journalism as a Mission” attended by over 800 journalists from over 70 Russian regional unions. “Our member union in Russia has once again proved its strength and relevance to Russian journalists in the fight for their social rights and independence by attracting such a massive cross-section of Russian journalism. Like many of our unions, the RUJ is tackling the serious challenges arising from the crisis of journalism and such an exhilarating event plays a huge role in mobilising Russian journalists” said Jim Boumelha. The event consisted of a dazzling week-long programme of lectures, seminars, and master classes on subjects at the heart of journalism today. It included major debates on “dialogue of solidarity” featuring a lively series on safety of war correspondents, in particular questions of the best strategy by media and unions; a buoyant roundtable involving some of the leading editors on the future of regional newspapers; an open tribune set continuously throughout the festival for an exchange of experiences on a vast array of subjects and the presentation of stimulative and divergent; film and TV documentary shows; newspapers photographic exhibitions as well as a space for socials and encounters. Franco Siddi praised the RUJ for the effort in bringing together its activists as well as scores of media professionals. “The strength of this festival is not just the dazzling arrays of subjects of concern to journalists being debated. As well as a forum for exchange of actual experience, the discussions offered not just observations and theories but also concrete solutions. With crises on so many front for journalists, thinking together and building bridges is now a crucial in the battle for the future of journalism”, he said. One of the highlights of the festival was a presentation by Andrei Trofimov, chair of the regional union in the Crimea, of the situation and needs of the 500 journalists who have now joined the RUJ. “The success of this festival demonstrates once again the solid work done by the RUJ not just day-to-day defending and advancing Russian journalists’ rights and independence from the undue influence of politicians and oligarchs, but also their aspiration to be at the forefront of debates and innovations on all questions that matter to journalists” said RUJ président, Vsevolod Bogdanov. Russian journalists see this festival as a curtain raiser to the annual meeting of the European Federation of Journalists, which will be held in Moscow on 22nd November. For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17 The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries