The International Federation of Journalists today, during the opening day of its 25th World Congress, launched a new call for global solidarity among journalists to challenge the power of a “ruthless and unprincipled” class of media employers who dominates the world’s media landscape.
“Journalism in the world is in a dramatic phase of transition and change”, said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary in his report to Congress. “The unions have to adjust to new forms of work and building solidarity in this environment is of major urgency. This is the only way to defeat the ruthless and unprincipled breed of owners who have lost all sense of decency and respect for the mission of journalism.
In his address to the Congress, the biggest and most representative gathering of journalism unions’ leaders, Guy Ryder, General Secretary ICFTU, emphasised the importance of recent IFJ campaigns calling for solidarity and justice for journalists working in Iraq. “Iraq was essential to so many concerns in the world today, which were central to the trade union movement” he said. “The trade union movement has had a remarkable capacity to bring people together across lines, divisions and clashes of culture”. He said the IFJ and its member unions had played a key role in the development of the newly established International News Safety Institute, which will extend training opportunities available for journalists working in conflict zones.
Representatives from more than twenty countries joined a lively morning debate about the need to defend quality standards in journalism and to demand better social conditions. “Many journalists can still not make a living for their family” said Alpha Sall (Senegal), emphasising the particular plight of African journalists.
“The last Congress period has been particularly difficult”, said Juan Antonio Prieto (Spain), “especially following September 11th and because of the stark influences of the globalisation process”. The delegates underlined the dangers of increasing attacks against public service broadcasting and called for an enhanced vigilance on all continents, including in Europe or the USA, where infringements to trade union rights have increased.
Another international trade union leader, Philip Jennings, General Secretary of Union Network International, highlighted the challenges imposed by the concentration of business power in the media sector. “The impact of globalisation, including child labour, debt relief, human rights, trade union rights, cultural and intellectual property rights call for an unprecedented degree of international solidarity”.
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries