Facing old dilemmas in the new media landscape: UNESCO promotes discussion on journalism ethics in Europe
On 27 January 2011 UNESCO will bring together internationally-recognized experts working in the field of media self-regulation in Europe to facilitate the exchange of ideas and experiences on the current regional context with regard to journalistic professional standards and media self-regulation. The challenges for media accountability in emerging democracies, and the opportunities and obstacles posed by the digital revolution will also be on the agenda of the conference to be hosted at UNESCO's Headquarters in Paris.
Press Council members, ombudsmen, editors and journalists, academics, representatives from media institutes, civil society and international organizations will attend the conference, entitled "Journalism Ethics and Self-regulation in Europe: New Media, Old Dilemmas". The event will mark the closing of the project, Alignment to International Standards in the Media Sector of South East European Countries, an initiative implemented by UNESCO with financial support from the European Commission.
Launched in 2008, this 30-month project encouraged, assisted and accelerated media reforms in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey and Kosovo (as understood under UN Security Council Resolution 1244). It has contributed to consolidate internationally-recognized standards in these countries, and to enhance the protection of journalists, professionalism, accountability and independence of media - on the basis of self-regulation processes initiated through strong networking among the local press councils.
UNESCO has been lending ongoing support to media accountability systems based on voluntary and independent self-regulation mechanisms, identified as one of the media development indicators within a framework conducive to freedom of expression, good governance and human development. The conference on 27 January, and the project it marks the closing of, form part of this work, considered critical for ensuring high ethical and professional journalistic standards in all types of media.
The two earlier conferences, in Tirana (March 2009) and Istanbul (February 2010), have led up to this one. By contributing to the setting of professional and ethical standards, and fostering their application, media self-regulation mechanisms - including codes of ethics, press councils, ombudsmen and readers' editors - can guide journalists in their daily work, and particularly when faced with complex dilemmas. Further, by being instrumental to the reinforcement of journalism's quality and serving as a bridge between the media and their audience, they benefit media users, and therefore strengthen public trust in journalism. Experts often emphasize that self-regulation mechanisms may help media outlets protect themselves against legal actions and respond to criticism, as well as reduce the number of media professionals that are brought to court.
UNESCO's conference focusing on journalism ethics and self-regulation in Europe is very timely, within a context in which old ethical dilemmas still need to be faced by professional journalists, yet where the Internet and fast-paced technological development have also opened up a whole new spectrum of issues to be discussed.
To register for the event, please <a target=_blank href="http://www.unesco-ci.org/cgi-bin/events/registration/add.cgi?ID=12;d=1">click here</a>.