Journalists Head to Spain for IFJ Debate on Actions to Confront Media Crisis

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

media output.

"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

decade.

"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."

The

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

Paco

Audije (Spanish)                           

:  +34 671609333

Monir

Zaarour(

Arabic)                           

: +32 472587690

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125

countries worldwide