Journalists' leaders from all corners of the globe
are heading for Spain
this weekend to join the Congress of the International Federation of
Journalists, the world's largest gathering of unions and associations
representing reporters and editorial staff.
The Congress, which will be held in the historic
centre of Cadiz, will confront a range of massive problems facing the media
industry and journalists - including threats of violence, governmental
interference in media, a crisis of confidence in traditional media markets hit
by the impact of the Internet, and growing demands from within the community of
journalists for action to defend ethical and professional standards.
"The theme of our Congress is Journalism in Touch
with the Future," said Aidan White,
IFJ General Secretary, "and that says everything about the growing determination
within journalism to confront pessimism about the future of our craft."
The IFJ Congress will receive a report on the future
of journalism which outlines new strategies for unions to defend journalists'
rights, both in the workplace and in their professional role.
"Some traditional media have made savage cuts in the
fabric of journalism and encouraged a betrayal of ethical norms," said White.
"Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost over the past three years. There is
less informed coverage of public affairs at local and national level. If this
decline goes unchecked democracy will suffer and corruption will grow."
While the IFJ says the Internet and the wave of new
players in the world of information is great news for free expression and
democracy, more must be done to counter a quality deficit caused by the cuts in
"People need informed analysis, commentary and
information about current affairs based on values of transparency, credibility
and accountability," said White. "Only journalism can provide this. Blogging
and twittering are good for hearing what people have got to say, but they are
no substitute for genuine journalism."
The Congress will debate organising strategies for
unions. It will also confront the continuing crisis of violence against
journalists in many parts of the world where war, crime and social dislocation
have led to the killing of more than 1,000 reporters and editors over the past
"The crisis of impunity in killings of journalists
and the scandal of governmental neglect will be at the heart of the agenda,"
said White. "Colleagues from Africa, Latin America and many parts of Asia will give first-hand accounts of the crisis for
press freedom and make proposals on how to make journalism safe."
The Congress will also discuss IFJ plans to
strengthen its own regional networks, to provide more training and support for
journalists and to bring about reforms within the organisation to meet the momentous
challenges facing the industry.
"The IFJ will help unions build a new solidarity to
address problems - both old and new," said White. "Our regions are growing in
confidence. There is a sense that journalism is on the march, even if some
employers appear to be weaker in their defence of the values of journalism."
Congress in Spain coincides
with celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the adoption of
the Constitution of Cadiz, and the adoption of the first
press freedom law in Spain
adopted in 1810. It will be officially opened by the First Vice-President of
the government of Spain,
María Teresa Fernández de la Vega on May 25.
For more information, please contact:
Ernest Sagaga ( French and English) : + 32 477 71 4029
: +34 671609333
: +32 472587690
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125