AEJ MF Project
Freedom of the media is a cherished principle throughout Europe. It is also one that can be easily eroded, flagrantly or by stealth. The AEJ, with members dispersed across the continent, is well placed to keep track of how the principle is honoured in the real world, and the evidence of a growing trend for it to be broken for commercial convenience or political ends.
In 2006, the AEJ decided to launch this new endeavour at its annual congress in Oviedo. William Horsley, former BBC foreign correspondent and chairman of the UK Section, leads the project as AEJ Media Freedom Representative.
In 2007, the AEJ's first survey of media freedom across Europe – Goodbye to Freedom? – was published at the Dublin Congress in November. A second survey was published in February 2008, updating and expanding on the first. A new collection of reports was issued at the AEJ Congress in Linz in November 2008, focusing on public broadcasting and trust in the media.
At the AEJ Congress in Maastricht in 2009, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg called for governments, journalists and civil society across Europe to bring to justice all those responsible for murders and assaults targeting journalists in Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and several other countries in recent years.
The AEJ Congress in Ordu, Turkey in October 2010 received latest reports about serious infringements of legitimate media freedoms in Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria and Ukraine. Birgitta Jonsdottir MP, the author of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, presented an agenda for better protecting the safety and professional rights of journalists, which are under threat from laws and practices in countries in many parts of Europe. Iceland has resolved set out to make itself a “haven” for investigative reporters and whistle-blowers. Ms Jonsdottir also intends, with support from leading media and civil rights groups. to press the leading European and EU institutions to remove arbitrary and unnecessary laws and practices which are eroding Europe’s reputation as a model to others of freedom of the media and freedom of speech.