Declaration for World Press Freedom Day 2001

The International Federation of Journalists sends a message of solidarity and goodwill to all journalists around the world on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day. We salute the professional and trade union solidarity of journalists and media staff in the fight against poverty, fear and corruption in journalism.

Journalism today faces a continuing ordeal of violence and intimidation from the enemies of press freedom. At the same time, from within, the values of journalism are undermined by the insidious agenda of global media corporations.

We note that in the ten years since the United Nations declared May 3rd as World Press Freedom Day more than 1,000 journalists and media workers have been killed or suffered violent deaths in the exercise of their profession.

Our review of killings of journalists and media staff in the past decade reveals that the number of media casualties has been dramatically underestimated. The truth is far worse than we care to imagine. Months and years after the event, new evidence of killings and violence against journalists has come to light.

After a decade of democratic reforms, journalists are still routinely subject to brutal intimidation and independent media continue to be censored. In many parts of the world journalism remains a desperately dangerous business.

We recognise that many governments and media organisations that have made efforts to reduce the dangers to media staff and we welcome the fact that leading media organisations have now recognised that minimum standards of protection, insurance and training must be given to journalists and media staff.

Every media employer must follow this lead.

But we cannot ignore the fact that a culture of impunity still prevails in many countries which means many of those responsible for killing journalists are getting away with murder. We call for new pressure to be applied on all governments to ensure that every attack and act of violence against media is investigated and the culprits brought to trial.

We demand zero tolerance of violence against journalists and press freedom.

But today more subtle threats to freedom of expression come from within media as a result of media concentration, globalisation and a culture of greed within the industry. Today a handful of media conglomerates control much of the information across the globe.

These companies invest millions in lobbying in Brussels and Washington for deregulation aimed at killing off public service media, wrenching control of authors' rights away from creators and converting the public information space into a cash cow for advertisers and sponsors. They pose a significant threat to quality journalism, they undermine standards of media pluralism and they operate outside the orbit of democratic accountability.

At the same time the owners are imposing poor working conditions and job insecurity on their staff and they show demonstrably less respect for ethical standards.

The quality of media is rock-bottom and some employers want to take it lower.

The IFJ believes that the future of journalism and democracy is in the balance when media organisations lose their sense of public mission and follow an agenda based exclusively upon the commercial exploitation of information.

The IFJ pledges to promote solidarity among all journalists working in all media to combat the internal and external threats to the rights of journalists and media staff. We shall strengthen the work of our regional groups in Africa, Asia, Latin America and in Europe, through the European Federation of Journalists, and we shall campaign vigorously to restore quality in media and rights at work.

We look forward to our 24th World Congress in Seoul, Korea, from June 11th-16th when new initiatives to promote public service broadcasting, editorial independence, and social justice in journalism.