Ethical Journalism Initiative Conference - Journalism and the Challenge of Intolerance

February 03, 2012 - May 04, 2012

Joint Statement Journalism and the Challenge of Intolerance Conference

3-4 May 2012, Brussels


Journalists, journalists' unions, media NGOs and anti-racism activists met at the conference hosted by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) in Brussels together with the Media Diversity Institute and ARTICLE 19 to debate the media's performance in reporting on ethnicity and religion, and strategies to improve the skills, resources and environment for working journalists reporting on Europe's minorities. (3 - 4 May)

The conference endorsed the recommendations to journalists, editors, civil society organisations, universities and journalists' unions in the report Getting the Facts Right: Challenges of Intolerance in Journalism' launched at the conference that was jointly produced by the EFJ/IFJ, MDI and ARTICLE 19 in collaboration with journalists unions from Lithuania, Greece and Slovakia. It further underlined the following:

Believing that journalists should be alert to the danger of discrimination being furthered by media, and shall do the utmost to avoid facilitating such discrimination based on such grounds as, gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, or sexual orientation.

Recognises that freedom of expression carries with it certain responsibilities and duties and may be legitimately limited in certain circumstances such as to protect against hate speech.

Highlights the impact of the financial crisis facing the media industry on ethical standards. The slashing of editorial budgets, resources, time allocation and general cutting of journalists' working conditions dramatically damages the capacity of media to maintain the level of professionalism which ensures the ethical standards and provide accurate and fair reporting on ethnicity and religion;

Concerned that the lack of investment in training and investigative journalism due to the crisis will further reduce quality in journalism leading to poorer reporting of vulnerable and minority groups and the danger of increased intolerance in society;

Recognises the need and benefit of building coalitions between journalists unions, editors and employers' organisations, civil society groups and journalism schools in order to improve the capacity of journalists to defend ethical standards that underpin an inclusive society;

Recognises that ethics are the foundation of accountable journalism that serves the public interest and holds the authorities to account; that campaigning for journalism ethics should go hand in hand with campaigns for the rights of journalists by journalists' unions;

Recognises that while journalists' unions have to manage the use of resources for competing priorities, campaigns on ethics and anti-discrimination should also be seen as an opportunity for unions to engage with their members on issues central to their professional identity.

Calls on journalists' unions and associations to better enforce and promote the ethical code for journalists. Where necessary the journalistic community should consider reviewing its codes to take account of new guidelines regarding reporting diversity and, in doing so, engage their full membership in the debate;

Calls on publishers and media owners to be accountable for the ethical standards in journalism; to develop social dialogues with journalists' unions in enforcing these standards, promote diversity and gender, create a culture of equality and respect within the newsroom. We further call for publishers to commit to greater transparency in ownership, internal governance and editorial policies.

Calls for the recognition and enforcement of the conscious clause in collective bargaining agreement for journalists across Europe. The right to refuse assignments that breach our codes of ethics is a working right central to our professional identity.

Calls for reform or examination of current self-regulatory framework or press council to ensure the representation of members of the journalists, editors, publishers and the public in its decision-making; and enforcement of such decisions. Self-regulatory systems need to be properly funded, independent and effective in order to uphold standards and avoid the threat of restrictive legislation.

Contact: Yuk Lan Wong (+ 32 22352226).

Download the information pack:



3 & 4 May 2012

International Press Centre, Residence Palace
(simultaneous translation available in English, French and German)



9:00 – 9:20 Registration

9.20 – 10.20 Opening & Keynote Speech

World Press Freedom Day

The Role of Journalism in Promoting Intercultural Understanding

Arne König, President of the European Federation of Journalists

Mr Nils Muižnieks Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights - speech available for download

Roberto Natale, President of Federazione Naionale Stampa Italiana (FNSI) - speech available for download

10. 20 – 11.30 Free Speech or “Hate Speech”?

This session will examine controversial cases concerning “hate speech” in Europe and, in so doing, will explore the tensions between the right to freedom of expression, particularly freedom of the media, on the one hand, and the right to equality, on the other, as the basis for restrictions on free speech. What is the boundary between the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression and “hate speech” that ought to be prohibited in law in order to protect the right to equality on such grounds as race, ethnicity and religion?

Sejal Parmar, Senior Legal Officer, ARTICLE 19 - speech available for download

Annika Nyberg Frankenhaeuser, Media Director, European Broadcasting Union - speech available for download

Villy Dall , Chair of the Media and Communications Policies, Danish Journalists Union - speech available for download

Mehmet Koksal, Belgian journalist

Chair: Bettina Peters, Director, Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)


11.30 – 11.45 Coffee break

11.45 – 12.45 Getting the Facts Rights: Challenges of Intolerance in Journalism

This section will launch the EJI study that looks at major challenges facing journalists and editors when reporting race, religion and migration issues. The Study is based on news makers’ testimonies and analysis of conventional newsroom practices in covering ethnicity and religion.

Dr Verica Rupar, Research Leader, Cardiff University, United Kingdom


12.45 – 14.00 Lunch

14.00 – 15.00 Best Practices – The Role of the Media in Countering Prejudice

What are the best practices in journalism to counter social prejudice through balanced and fair reporting? Journalists’ unions will report their experience of the
national campaign against racism.

Yannis Kotsifos, Director, Journalists' Union of Macedonia and Thrace Daily Newspapers (ESIEMTH) - speech available for download

Dainius Radzevičius, Chairman, Lithuanian Journalists’ Union (LZS)

Martine Simonis, Association of Professional Journalists in Belgium (AJP) - speech available for download


Chair: Yuk Lan Wong, Campaigns and Projects Officer, IFJ/EFJ

15.00 – 16.00 Creating the Foundation for Ethical Journalism and Media Diversity?

Milica Pesic, Executive Director, Media Diversity Institute

Michaël Privot, Director, European Network against Racism (ENAR)

Reynald Blion, Project manager of Media against Racism in Sport, Council of Europe - speech available in English & French


Chair: Stephen Pearse, EFJ General Secretary

16.00 – 16.15 coffee break

16.15 – 17.45 Working Groups

Participants will work in a group to discuss main findings of the Study and ideas coming out of the trainings and national conferences in order to suggest what can be adopted by different actors (including journalists, editors, media organisations, journalists’ unions, governments, etc.) to improve reporting on race, ethnicity and religion.

Working group I Ethical Standards and Diversity Inside and Outside of the Newsroom (English only)

How can journalists, editors and media managers work together to support ethical, value based journalism? What are journalism duties in this domain? How can trade unions use the collective bargaining process to create greater newsroom diversity? What can be done to improve news makers’ knowledge and understanding of anti-discrimination legislation? How to work on in-house training of journalists?

Moderator: Roberto Natale, President of Federazione Naionale Stampa Italiana (FNSI)

Working group II Towards Reflective journalism (Simultaneous translation in English, French and German)

Through the discussion among participants on existing self-regulatory framework – Press Councils, Ethic Committees, News Ombudsman, etc. The group will examine how such measures are being effectively implemented; if not what can be done to improve and enforce these mechanism? What are the roles of media professionals, states and civil society organisations? How to find ways to promote co-operation among the media, the government, and CSOs, in order to meet the current challenges.

Moderator: Dr Verica Rupar, Research Leader, Cardiff University, United Kingdom

18:00 End of Day I

7.30 - 9.00 pm Dinner

FRIDAY, 4 MAY 2012


9.00 – 9.30 am registration

9.30 – 10.30 am Working Groups Report Back

Working group I Ethical Standards and Diversity Inside and Outside of the Newsroom

Working group II Towards reflective journalism

Discussion and Conclusion

10.30 – 11.00 am coffee break

11.00 – 12.00 am Final Statement and Recommendations

Concluding Session and Final Conference Statement

12.00 – 13.00 Evaluation of Conference

13.00 – 14.30 Lunch

End of conference and participants will depart.

This campaign is co-funded by the European Union's Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme in partnership with ARTICLE 19 and Media Diversity Institute.