» UNESCO addresses 20th Festival of Russian Journalists
06.10.2016 - Communication & Information Sector

UNESCO addresses 20th Festival of Russian Journalists

UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information Frank La Rue delivered a key note speech at the 20th Festival of Journalists « All of Russia », the largest event for media professionals in the country.

Around one thousand journalists from all regions of Russia gathered from 26 September to 2 October 2016 in Dagomys to celebrate their profession and discuss the most important issues faced by the global media community. The programme of the event included discussions on topical issues, presentation of new media projects, master classes by leading journalists, round tables and exhibitions. Among the speakers at the event were politicians, representatives of UNESCO, of the International Federation of Journalists and of OSCE.

In his key note address to the Festival, Frank La Rue emphasized the importance of free press and access to information as guarantors of all other human rights, which stand in the center of modern civilization. “All journalists should have a right to enjoy freedom of expression and freedom of the press in their work, a right to enjoy safety and protection of the law, access to information as well as privacy to protect their sources and investigations,” he said.

Speaking about the most acute challenges of the modern society, starting with safety of journalists, Frank La Rue declared: “We in UNESCO urge all partners to commit fully to the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity by ensuring swift investigations, training judges and security forces. We will only be able to develop our minds freely if we can contrast opinions and information, if we can see different alternatives and make our own decisions.” UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General voiced his concern about arbitrary detention of hundreds of journalists in many countries and called for their immediate liberation.

Mr La Rue also mentioned access to information and its impact on democracy and development, the balancing of freedom of expression and privacy against national security, the impact of the Internet on media and society as a whole. According to him, new technologies do not change the core values which guide journalists, such as pluralism of opinions, editorial independence and professional ethics. Online communication, which opened spaces for freedom of expression, cultural exchange and knowledge sharing, also provided platforms to hate speech, radicalization and gender-based harassment. This put a common responsibility on States, civil society and intergovernmental organization to meet these challenges in a constructive and positive way.

“Quality journalism in this transforming environment, is as vital as it ever has been. Ethical reporting implies going beyond the search for simple and inflammatory narratives. It means scrutinizing facts and figures, reporting on causes and motivations of those working to stir up antagonism as well as of those working for harmony and co-existence,” said Frank La Rue.

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