Mon, 22 April 2024

Annual reports (updated) ahead of 22/11/2021 GA

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The translation service DeepL is excellent in case you do not yet know it. DeepL will translate a fairly long piece of text into most languages in one go. ES

AEJ ANNUAL REPORTS FROM BOARD AND SECTIONS 2021

President’s report 2021. Isaia Tsaousidou

www.aej.org E-mail: [email protected]

Since February 2021, when I was elected as International President of the AEJ, I have had many offers to attend conferences, seminars and special interest events as a speaker.

Some of them: Chios, Crete, Thessaloniki, Kastoria, Nafplio, Livadia, Chalkida, Delphi, Patras, Ioannina, Parga, Skiathos, Kozani, Nafpaktos.

During my visit to these conferences I had the opportunity to introduce the Association of European Journalists and talk about our important work.

Many journalists were interested and asked to become our members, as they liked the ideas we stand for: European integration, media independence and freedom of the press.

I had important contacts with the local leaders of each region with whom we discussed their problems and the possibility of our cooperation. This personal contact helps a lot in the image of the Association. I believe that in this way we can become more outward-looking and pass on our ideas for better and higher quality journalism. Something we all fight for every day in our countries, whatever they may be.

I have also had invitations to visit other European countries and attend events and conferences. This will happen soon. With vaccination we can earn our lives back.

An important role for me personally is my contact with young people, something you hear me mention at all our annual meetings. I have already been in contact with universities in Greece and from the New Year I will have the opportunity to visit some of them and talk to the students.

I believe that the Association of European Journalists, a non-governmental organization, should upgrade its role in the European institutions and bodies.

Communication with various EU Commissioners is well underway and we are planning meetings in 2022 if the pandemic allows. I should mention that thanks to our Brussels representative Javier Jimenez-Moratalla we have had online meetings with many directors of the European institutions. We had the opportunity to chat and present the AEJ so that no one could say that they did not know us. These contacts will continue in order to build a relationship of trust with them.

Together with the new Secretary General Edward Steen we have redesigned the internatational AEJ website and we try to update it frequently. We have asked all sections to contribute to this effort as it is good to publicize what we are doing in our countries.

Unfortunately few of our colleagues responded. We need your cooperation and active participation to make us stronger.

It is a fact that only through cooperation between the sections will we be able to achieve our goals.

We must find a way to participate in European programs. This is not very easy as the bureaucracy is very large and requires an organized office that will be paid for its services.

Dear colleagues, our obligation to pay the annual fees to the international association helps in all these things I mentioned. We must support the association with a minimum of 15 euros for operating costs if we want to have a decent presence in international forums.

The President’s agenda is not something that I will make on my own and that is why I hope for your cooperation and look forward to your suggestions.

Good understanding and cooperation with everyone on the international board ensures the fruitful and smooth running of the AEJ.

Isaia Tsaousidou

International President of AEJ

2)

Annual Report Sec- Gen 2020 – Feb 2021 Tibor Macak

(Vice President from Feb 2021)

My last report as International Secretary General of the AEJ for 2020 till February 15. 2021 will be brief – after eight years, the time has come for change, and I am glad that Ed Steen has become my successor, facing new challenges in this position. The beginning of my last year was in the atmosphere of preparations for leaving for Berlin, where I have worked as a correspondent for Slovak public television and radio RTVS since February last year. Shortly before the start of the pandemic, we managed to organize a seminar “Greening the EU-Budget” in Brussels in cooperation with the Press Service of European Parliament.

It was also the last face-to-face meeting before lockdown and online communication. I will not comment on the special summons of the AEJ arbitration committee and its controversial report. The situation was resolved by the online General Assembly in mid-February 2021, at which a new board was elected, albeit in a dramatic situation, when under pressure from some sections former President Otmar Lahodynsky withdrew his candidacy for the post of Media Freedom representative. I can only say, that the last two months in the position of international secretary were perhaps the most difficult in the entire 8 years in office.

One of the goals I set myself as Vice-President of the AEJ as a correspondent in Berlin is to revive the German section. I have had several talks on this topic and as I wrote in the cover letter before the election, this task is a marathon and not a short-distance run. This involves not only bureaucracy but, above all, a thorough preparation of the section’s recovery process.

I hope that I will be able to invite a colleague from Berlin to Greece for next year’s AEJ General Assembly, with whom I will discuss and prepare the whole process. In conclusion, I would like to thank all my colleagues for their support during their eight years as AEJ International Secretary General. It was a very important experience for me and I wish the new secretary Ed Steen a lot of patience and courage after less than a year in office. Finally, I would like to recommend everyone to follow the AEJ website, which has been updated and can also be a source for the work of journalists.

Berlin, November 2021

3)

SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REPORT (Edward Steen, from Feb 15 2021)

November 10, 2021

“1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure,” said Queen Elisabeth II when she endured her annus horribilis after 40 years on the English throne.

Much of 2021 has been like that for entire populations, life being dominated by the devastating Covid 19 pandemic, with the possibility of even nastier variants to follow. In the AEJ we held testy online elections, with communications over the disputed media representative result reduced to fuzzy and confusing Zoom sessions. Then, of course, the terrible fires in Greece and the consequent postponement of our autumn Congress in Greece.

And looming over everything was the emergence of ever-clearer battle-lines between those who retain a belief in “Europe” and a growing number of political operators openly following in Britain’s disastrous footsteps, and testing the limits of the European Union with a vote-winning return to nationalism and shades of near-fascism, or worse.

This mood has affected all our members, especially in Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, and of course very dramatically, on the EU’s borders with Belarus, whose dictator has simply beaten up and imprisoned journalists who disagree with him and has now embarked on exploiting a self-made humanitarian crisis on the border with Poland intended to weaken and blackmail the EU. At the time of writing the situation – from which journalists have been excluded by Belarus but also by Poland – looks dangerous and fateful. In Turkey President Erdo?an appears out of control, and is seemingly immune to protests of murder and injustice, or rulings by the Court of Human Rights.

We are now also doing our best to help extricate journalists from Afghanistan, too, following the botched US withdrawal in August.

Fairly horribilis in all, and for myself as the new Secretary-General, much unfamiliar work organising meetings, writing endless, often contentious, minutes and protest letters, and many hours trying to revive a somewhat somnolent website at a time when there is wave after wave of news highly relevant to us. My plans include ground-breaking interviews, more stories from our Sections, determined re-establishment of Dutch and German Sections, as well as expansion to the East and, if possible, a workable new and affordable way of creating a free press on the model of the ever more successful independent Byline Times in London.

2021 has proved to be very difficult for most media, but also an empowering year for journalism in general. It has become evident that “real” journalism matters – not weaponised and distorted à la Trump or Orbán, or cappuccino lifestyle froth. Fake news, which was in danger of triumphing via social media, has at last been highlighted for the mischievous, sometimes truly evil role it is still playing in disrupting our societies. The war against Facebook especially has at last reached, this month, the point of proper and let’s hope effective European legislation. All thanks to Irina Nedeva in Bulgaria for her tireless work on this subject.

It was the Covid pandemic which threw into sharp relief how crucial it is for free societies to have serious, reliable information – especially in the face of the spread of confusing nonsense about Covid (much of it orchestrated by Russia). Please take time to read Irina Nedeva’s excellent and detailed report about life, death, and misinformation in the ex-communist Eastern Bloc.

This is flagrant poisoning of our democracies The European Commission is acutely aware of it and is working flat out to develop strategies to counter it. We are very happy to encourage this work, to help expose the atrocious record of Facebook’s disgraceful and misleading clickbait tactics. Zuckerberg being found out and facing bipartisan hostility in the US is one of the rare pieces of good news in 2021. (See https://aej.org/2021/11/18/facebook-in-the-firing-line-at-last/)

The belated understanding that decent, independent journalism is essential to democracy seems at last to be properly understood, particularly in the European Parliament and the Commission. I would like to single out a stateswoman of rare courage and determination, the Vice President of the Commission, Vera Jourová. Her remit is values and free speech, and she has kindly sent a message of support to this meeting. Earlier this year she personally intervened with officials who have ignored or tried to block the AEJ’s work.

I should mention, too, my deputy Mark Porter’s excellent work not just on the website, but in helping to make connection with journalists in and outside Russia and especially with Ukrainian colleagues and the Baltic states. We are also looking further afield in the Caucasus, particularly Georgia, where democracy seems to have gone out of the window in recent times and we have someone in place in Tbilisi.

So there are glimmers of European light in the darkness.

I must thank all my loyal colleagues and friends, especially my predecessor Tibor Macak and our new president Saia Tsaousidou ad ex-president Otmar Lahodynsky for their help and encouragement in what has proved an exciting new departure both for me and, I hope, for the Association. That also goes for the encouragement of Commission Vice-President Vera Jourová, who understands so well and clearly what is now at stake for everyone in Europe, and the vital role of free, independent media.

4)

TREASURER’S FINANCIAL REPORT 2021

As from 1 January 2013 AEJ fiscal year is officially coinciding with the calendar year (as mentioned in the Statutes and advised by the Audit Committee). All operations were made through the account opened in Bratislava at Unicredit Bank.

INCOME STATEMENT – AEJ INTERNATIONAL

For the year ended 31 December 2020

Revenues Euro

Unicredit Bank A/C balance 1 Jan. 2020 13,821.60 National Sections Fees 2020 paid in 2020 6,405.00 * Moniteur Belge reimb. 129.35

Total Revenues 20,505.95 (A)

Expenses

Bank costs 25,08 Moniteur Belge 153,71 Website Maintenance & Operations 257,50 Zoom Subscription 167,88

General Secretariat 2020 600.00 President’s O.L. Travel Costs (decided by Board in Sibiu) 600.00 Seminar in Brussels (Feb. 2020) 1,203,04 Total Expenses 3,007.21 (B)

NET INCOME 17,348.74 (A)-(B) (as deposited on Unicredit Bank A/C)

*) Armenian Section paid their fee for 2020 in 2019 .

Deposited funds on Unicredit Bank A/C have increased of Euro 3,527.14 [historical: 967.14 (2014 to 2015) Euro 1,899.54 (2016 to 2015) 1,499.05 (2017 to 2016) 3,381.64 (2018 to 2017) Euro 847.75 (2019 to 2018)] totalling available operating income funds Euro 12,122.26.

ASSETS & LIABILITIES STATEMENT AEJ INTERNATIONAL

For the year ended 31 December 2020

Assets

Bratislava Bank A/C as at 31.12.2020 17,348.74 Total assets

Liabilities

Equity

Available operating income funds 2015 967.14

Available operating income funds 2016 1,899.54

Available operating income funds 2017 1,499.05

Available operating income funds 2018 3,381.64

Available operating income funds 2019 847.75

Available operating income funds 2020 3,527.14

Cumulated contingency funds 5,226.48

Total liabilities and equities 17,348.74 Sections fees – 2020

Fee 2020 Members Votes

No. Section Paid – € each 15 € each 10 members Notes

1 Austria 345,00 23 3

2 Belgium 150,00 10 1

3 Bulgaria 480,00 32 3

4 Finland 150,00 10 1

5 Hungary 300,00 20 2

6 Ireland 450,00 30 3

7 Italy 600,00 40 4

8 Slovakia 750,00 50 5

9 UK – 40 4 Compensation with Media Freedom costs (50 € monthly) 10 Poland 30,00 2 0

11 Spain 1.350,00 90 9

12 Greece 750,00 50 5

13 France 450,00 30 3

14 Romania 450,00 30 3

15 Cyprus 150,00 10 1

16 Armenia 150,00 10 1 Anticipated in Paris 2019

Total paid 6.555,00 477 48 Votes (total)

Albania, BiH (admitted at 2016 Congress) Croatia, Moldova, Serbia, Czech Rep., Netherlands, Turkey, Ukraine (exempted) did not contributed to AEJ Int.

AEJ – Financial Perspective 2021 and Budget

As decided at GA in Brussels 2013, Annual Fee remains at € 15.00 per section member. Consequently: annual budget is likely to reach € 4,300.00 granting minimal functioning costs. No more annual fee-redemptions are planned for any section but a smaller amount (to be negotiated with the board) will be required/accepted from new/less dotated sections.

About costs (in €)

– Bank expenses 70.00

– Moniteur Belge 300.00 (134.55 already paid) – New Web Site and Service 1,000.00 (paid)

– General Secretariat 600.00 (50 x 12)

– GA reserve 2,000.00

– General Expenses reserve 330.00

Total 4,300.00 balancing expected fees.

Of course cost covering depends on incoming fees. Payments have been delayed by COVID-19 and could be deeply affected by pandemic. As Congress organizing section Greece will be exempted in 2022.

Further projects could be financed with available operating income funds. 15 September 2021

Luigi Cobisi, Treasurer AEJ

Late news, 20/11/2021 Message from Luigi, partly in red for a reason you will quickly understand. Please spare our Treasurer having to write again and again. ES

Dear Friends

a statement of paid fees for 2021 is hereby enclosed as to 20 Nov. 2021. Voting rights are also calculated. After my earlier message of 30 Oct. only Chris Bobinski from Poland sent his fee (Euro 30.00).

Sections still having to pay are therefore the same as 20 days ago: Austria, Belgium, Spain, France, Cyprus, Armenia (art. 6 of the Statute). They also omitted to declare the number of their members preventing the GA to determine their voting rights (art. 9 of the Statutes). My messages did not receive any answer, except from a promise from Spain (see below) on 23 Oct and the request from France the Board already discussed.

Under this situation I fear quite a difficult GA on Monday.

Best greetings

Luigi Cobisi

AEJ  GA 2021 – Sections represented (updated 20/11/2021)Fee 2018Fee 2019Fee 2020Fee 2021MembersVotesPayment dateNo.SectionPaid – €Paid – €Paid – €Paid – €each 15 €each 10 membersNotes1Austria255.00255.00345.0002Belgium600.00300.00150.00028/10/20213Bulgaria300.00330.00480.00600.00404412/07/20214Finland405.00360.00150.00300.00202219/07/20215Hungary300.00300.00300.00300.00202206/05/20216Ireland450.00480.00450.00450.00303329/10/20217Italy600.00600.00600.00435.00293318/06/20218Slovakia750.00450.00750.00750.00505520/05/20219UK-60.00-570.00384404/11/202110Poland30.0030.0030.0030.002011Spain1,350.001,350.001,350.00029/10/202112Greece-450.00750.00750.00505513France480.00-450.00029/07/202114Romania450.00450.00450.00450.00303315Cyprus-150.00150.00016Ukraine—0Exempted17Armenia                  –                         –                  150.00–                    –                         0Total paid5,970.005,565.006,555.004,635.00309.0031.00Votes (total)

5)

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE

Irina Nedeva , AEJ Special Representative on the Issues of Fake news and disinformation 
(2020 – 21)

In 2020 I took part in numerous initiatives and conferences both at national and international level concerning the Fake news phenomenon in the so-called “Covid-Year”. The issue of disinformation on the pandemic itself and the spread of distrust among our societies was the main focus in the conferences in which I took part.
 
Both in January 2020 and February 2020 I took part in a special intensive training of Master Trainers organized by TechSoap Europe on Countering Disinformation and Digital Security for journalists and activists, becoming a certificated Master trainer to deliver the learning tips and knowledge. I also took the opportunity to promote during my presentationsin different formats the AEJ initiatives in what we did as a participation in the public consultation opened by the European Commission on the fake news from a journalistic perspective. 

As chair of AEJ-Bulgaria and SR on fake news I was invited to be moderator of an international conference in the framework of The Night of Science, organized in February 2020 by The French Institute and the Medical University in Pleven with international participation. Fake news and science in the media as problematic communication in the Age of Ignorance of scientific findings that have been replaced by emotions or everyday rumors easily spread on the internet was in the focus of the international 2020 Night of Ideas with the participation of leading international scientists and medical doctors. 

I was invited to moderate the discussions with the experts and the audience emphasizing the need of media literacy including recognition of scientific facts in a news media reality that often driven by sensationalism and in a modern worldso far dominated by powerful politicians who often disrespect the facts, speaking openly about so called “alternative facts”. 
I was speaking on the topic during Innovation Explorer in Sofia (February 2020) – a format of a conference similar to TED (https://innovationexplorer.bg/2020.php#irina_nedeva) 

Just before the first big shut down in early March 2020 I was taking part in a visit to Brussels and meetings with Helena Dalli, The Equality Commissioner, and Vera Yourova, the Commission VP for Values and Transparency, on the conference on equality and I spoke about the impacts of disinformation that led countries like Bulgaria to reject ratification of the Istanbul convention against the domestic violence. 

In March 2020 I was invited as a speaker on the Role of the Media in Transition societies by the Carl Friedrich Goerdeler College for Good Governance of Robert Bosch Foundation Center for Central and Eastern Europe, Russia. and Central Asia. 

In April 2020 the Bulgarian section of AEJ organized a training in Fact-checking for Journalists and investigative reporters that later on became a manual on fact-checking for journalists published by AEJ-Bulgaria. 

In May 2020 I was part of a panel on "The Shrinking Space for Media Freedom in Southeast Europe" with a focus on disinformation issues in an online international conference organized by the Center for Study of Democracy (CSD) and the Konrad Adenauer Shtiftung that resulted in a publication https://csd.bg/publications/publication/the-shrinking-space-for-media-freedom-in-southeast-europe/ on media capture disinformation and propaganda in the midst of tye Covid pandemic. 

In September 2020 I was moderating the panel on hybrid threats with Bruno Lete, German Marshall Fund Fellow in Brussels. The focus of the conference organized by The Digital National Association (DNA) with NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (the event was online due to restrictions). 

In October 2020 I took part in the webinar of European Broadcasting Union on AI and Fake news. 

I was also invited as a panelist by the European commission representation in Bulgaria in a conference on Fight with disinformation and Media Literacy in EU 
https://aej-bulgaria.org/events/

In October 2020 I was among the speakers who opened the Media Literacy Coalition annual event supported by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom https://events.gramoten.li/en/home/ 

November 2020 I was invited to be part of the Jury for the Anti-Corruption Fund journalistic award for investigative reporting. 

In December 2020 I was a speaker in the conference on Media situation in Bulgaria with a focus on government and disinformation, organized by KAS SouthEastern Europe Media program in Sofia (online).

Impact: organizational visibility both on national and international level and not only of the efforts of the national section AEJ-Bulgaria being its reelected chairwoman, but also visibility of the efforts put together by the international AEJ on the issues of disinformation as I was often invited as a chair of AEJ-Bulgaria but, used the opportunity to introduce AEJ International activities in the field or vice versa. 

Future: 

The topic of disinformation will stay as important as it was during the first appearance of the notion of Fake news during the Brexit Referendum and election of Donald Trump. Not only in the recent mob assault on the Capitol, but also fake news spreading anti-vaccine conspiracies and rumours within the Pandemic proved that disinformation could change political and individual behavior and that the media are important players in a world that has been heavily driven by emotions provoked also by the social media and tech giant platforms. The expertise that I have obtained could be useful in terms of trainings for the network of AEJ (International), we could also think of new formats of sharing useful insights among sections and to continue the engagement of AEJ Int on this quite important topic that will be influencing the relationship between AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the production and dissemination of information. 

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE IN BRUSSELS

AEJ discussion with GUELLNER Lutz (European Union External Action Service) Head of Division – Strategic Communications and Information Analysis
AEJ discussion with MOUSNIER Julian (SECRETARIAT GENERAL) Head of Unit – Citizens, Health, Migration & Security Union
AEJ discussion with STUMP Krisztina (DG CNET ) Head of Unit responsible for the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation
AEJ discussion with ENGLISH Mark, Matteo Salvai and Anna Wartberger (Spokeperson European Commission) on Fake News
AEJ discussion with DUCH Jaume (European Parliament) Director General for Communication
Contacts with Klaus Welle (EP Secretary General) and the Cabinet of  Vera JUROVA, Commissioner responsible for the Rule of Law.
The AEJ has finally succeeded in registering the Association with the Belgian authorities.

Javier Jimenez-Moratalla


ALBANIA 2021

The AEJ Albanian Section during this year had a lot of activities:

On 10 June we organized a big event when 23 new members joined us. During the event the Ambassasor of Sweden, the deputy head of the EU Delegation, the rapresentative from the OSCE and MPs were invited. The event was also supported from the Europea Commission especially by the V-P Vera Jourova, who sent us a video message: Downloadable FHD MP4:

https://euc-vod.fl.freecaster.net/12/207352/FHD_I207352EN1W.mp4

Also during this year we have made many statements against the violence of the state police towards the journalists.

During this year, the AEJ Albania, had strong debates with the delegation of the European Union in Tirana, for the reason that in many cases they did not respond to our emails for cooperation or even to have a meeting. During the debate with email, we raised concerns about this arrogant behaviour and why they had not raised their voices for the various violations of journalists that had occurred in quite a few cases from the state authorities.

The Embassy and its press office in many cases not only did not told the truth but criticized us. After the presentation of the facts, they stepped back, thanks also the intervention of colleague Edward G. Steen and AEJ President Saia Tsaousidou. After that we held a big event where 23 new members joined the association. But after this conference, which was also greeted by the Vice President of the European Commission, Vera Jourova, the EU delegation continued to hold the same position, not inviting us to the meetings with the media.

Arber Hitaj , chairman of Albania Section

ARMENIA 2020 – 2021

Liana Sayadyan <[email protected]>

Thu, 23 Sept, 12:27

Dear Saia and Edward,

I have to apologize for not sending any annual report. Last year and this year as well, because of the war in our country, we hadn’t any activity as AEJ. Sorry for that.

Counting on your comprehension,

Kind regards,

Liana

AUSTRIA 2021

Enclosed are the activities AEJ Austria has undertaken in the past months despite Covid. By the way, the press statements mentioned below were mostly well received, not least thanks to the distribution via Austria Presse Agentur (APA).

– AEJ talk with German Ambassador Ralf Beste

– AEJ discussion with Vice President of the EU Parliament Otmar Karas

– AEJ discussion with Hungarian EU journalist Katalin Halmai and Head of ROG Austria Rubina Möhring

– AEJ interview with the Spanish ambassador Cristina Fraile Jiménez de Muñana

– AEJ discussion with US Ambassador Trevor Traina

– AEJ exclusive interview with EU Minister Karoline Edtstadler

Various statements (press statements):

– on murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

– on Austrian journalist Franziska Tschindere, publicly defamed by the government in Hungary

– Detention of ORF correspondent Carola Schneider and her cameraman

– Appeal to save Austria’s oldest daily newspaper “Wiener Zeitung“

The Austrian section of AEJ currently has 28 members.

Edgar Schütz, AEJ Austria

BELGIUM

Report AEJ Belgium 2020-2021

In 2020 our General Assembly took place on July 8, 2020

In 2021 our General Assembly was held on June 28, 2021

For most of 2020 and the first part of 2021 we mostly worked online, due to the sanitary rules that restricted or even prohibited public meetings.

We may congratulate ourselves that thanks to the editorial board we maintained the rhythm of publishing every month our Newsletter, plenty of information on own activities, relevant items concerning media & Europe literacy, partnering organizations and news from AEJ International.

All editions are available on http://aej-belgium.eu/newsletter-2/.

Among the highlights we like to count the update of our statutes to make them conform with new legislation during the extraordinary GA held on July 8 (published in the Belgisch Staatsblad of 20 November 2020, see: http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/tsv_pdf/2020/11/17/20135511.pdf ).

Also the active participation at the 24 hours summit for Climate, organized by the International Press Club Alliance on October 23, the active involvement in the EU Media Advocacy Group resulting notably in different exchanges (by way of mailing, online meetings) with the German EU Presidency, European Commissioners, MEP’s, as well as continued collaboration with Radio Gold giving way to 3 new radio portraits of EU correspondents, see: http://aej-belgium.eu/media_cafe/inside-newsroom-profiles-journalists/.

After a slow start the board fully used the opportunity to meet online and intensified the exchanges among board members, notably on how to upgrade our different communication channels. New projects were launched, not always with immediate success, but opening serious perspectives for an active working year 2021-2022. We welcomed also the active help of several members assisting our board members in their tasks.

Individual members represented AEJ Belgium at several online gatherings and/or participated in audiovisual broadcasts. Special mention deserves the work as a volunteer in a refugees camp in Samos of our board member Wytze Van der Gaast.

More can be found in the different monthly newsletters, see: http://aej-belgium.eu/newsletter-2/.

Among the activities and actions for our members and relations was the networking event at the Press Club Europe Brussels on June 29 with special guest Stefaan Van der Jeught (EUCJ).

Our Twitter account is being regularly updated by our board members Alia Papageorgiou and Alena Bieling. Follow us (@AEJBelgium) to have the latest news and insights.

Due to limited access to the Maison Jean Monnet and the pandemic health measures, our networking cocktail was postponed. We are now considering a new date under a hybrid formula.

Meanwhile, AEJ Belgium has started a collaboration with Brussels Morning. Every month, we will contribute to the printed version of news from work done by the EU media advocacy group and portraits of EU correspondents. In the October issue, you will find an interview with three EU correspondents based in Brussels but with roots in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

We are also continuing our series of interviews with EU correspondents in French on Radio Gold. On Monday 4 October and Friday 15 October, the live programme, presented by our board member Christian Bouvy, will take place between 13:00 and 14:00 Brussels time. You can find the podcasts on our website.

The award ceremony for the Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for investigative journalism will take place in the European Parliament on 14 October. AEJ Belgium mobilised its international network in support of the secretariat that is in the hands of the Press Club. The Press Club received in total over 220 contributions coming from all 27 EU member states. The jury is now working hard to evaluate all contributions. During a private event on 13 October, AEJ Belgium board members are to meet with the jury, the laureate and the family of Caruana Galizia.

AEJ Belgium has also co-signed the statement made by several media and pro-democracy organisations featuring a series of proposals to the European Commission on how to improve the credibility, inclusiveness and impact of the annual Rule of Law report. See complete text on our website.

Brussels, 01.10.2021

BULGARIA 2020 AND 2021

Activity report 2020

In 2020, the Association of European Journalists - Bulgaria (AEJ-Bulgaria) continued to work with its main partners and expanded the scope of its activities with new projects and various activities. The beginning of the period coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis necessitated a review of priorities and a focus on the organization's online presence and the organization of online events and trainings.

Traditional activities such as monitoring the media sector in the country and publishing critical positions every time we find a violation of ethics and freedom of speech; publishing and promoting media analysis on our website, publishing information about opportunities for journalists who want to develop their professional skills, continued to be key aspects of our work, despite the crisis.

The biggest challenge for AEJ-Bulgaria was the transformation of all planned attendance activities (events, round tables, trainings and conferences) in an online format that would maintain its quality and give added value to the audience, which was more than successful and fulfilled in very short deadlines. The first seminar, held online, was held on April 3, immediately after the launch of the new project "From critical thinking in the classroom to honest and independent journalism", which is implemented with the support of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and has a two-year deadline. This was followed by more than 10 webinars, which aired every Friday and focused on topics essential to the functioning of the journalistic community in times of crisis.

Another significant challenge was the transformation of the work of the operational team into a remote format, which imposed new roles and responsibilities. During this period, internal elections were organized for members of the Board of Directors of the organization due to the expiration of the term of the previous one. The General Assembly of the organization again trusted the same team in the person of Irina Nedeva,

Chairwoman, Maria Cheresheva Deputy Chairperson and members of the Management Board: Ivan Radev, Boryana Dzhambazova, Kamelia Ivanova, Iliya Valkov, Rosen Bosev.
During the period, the Association managed to maintain its activities and the image of an organization that cares for the professional and psychological development of journalists, but also for their physical safety, by providing means of protection against infection (multiple masks and helmets, attracted as a donation). and police violence during anti-government protests (distribution of PRESS stickers for journalists to use during coverage of protests)

During the reporting period, AEJ managed to organize student-centered online events that were innovative in format and manner and led to concrete results in the form of developed projects to increase media literacy and journalism skills. The ScoolMedia platform has established itself as a space for the development of young journalists, and some of the alumni of this project publish their first analyzes in various media and win awards.

During the reporting period, AEJ-Bulgaria continued to monitor the media situation and to issue positions concerning violated media ethics, rights of journalists, to monitor and publish current opportunities for work and professional development of journalists and media professionals. and communications. As a result, the site of AEJ-Bulgaria reported a total of 59,575 unique visitors or a total of 96,858 visits. 31 positions, 27 analyzes on a wide range of media topics, 145 current news and opportunities for journalists were published.

The association's Facebook page now has 5,043 likes and 5,291 followers.
In order to further expand our information channels, we have created an Instagram profile of AEJ-Bulgaria, which by the end of 2020 has nearly 200 followers, but is still gaining popularity. We continue to cover the most important for the activities of the organization on Twitter, where our followers are 1,107 at the end of 2020.

Due to the wave of misinformation that appeared along with the pandemic, which was particularly favored by social media, the association launched the Chronicle of Infodemia series, dedicated to various attacks on the truth related to the COVID pandemic. The purpose of the column was not only to mark examples of misinformation, propaganda, speculation and conspiracy theories, but also to trace and inform about the dangers surrounding their spread. The official partner for the publication of the materials from the series "Chronicles of Infodemia" became the online media "That is". And the project, within which 16 in-depth analyzes were prepared and published, is being implemented jointly with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.

Another significant initiative in partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation was the Listen to the Power of the Podcast podcast festival in November 2020. The limited opportunities for live events in 2020 gave birth to the idea for this first online podcast festival in Bulgaria, which presented a number of creators and hosts of international and Bulgarian podcast programs. The five-day program of conversations, discussions and trainings attracted audiences even overseas. The ambition of our team is to turn the festival from virtual to present.

The journalism genre, which presents working solutions in response to existing problems, the so-called "Solution-seeking journalism" was the subject of a journalism scholarship entitled "Looking Beyond Problems", together with Transitions Online and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. In addition to the funding, the AEJ-Bulgaria team also provided mentorship to the six journalists, whose ideas for materials were selected by the jury of the competition and later published on the organization's website and in other Bulgarian media.

"Journalism without masks" was the fifth study on freedom of speech, conducted through an anonymous survey of 204 journalists. This year the motto of the initiative was "Journalism without masks" and aimed to present an up-to-date photo of the media environment in the country. Keyly, the survey was conducted at a time when the situation is undergoing radical change due to the pandemic. This made it possible to see how and to what extent the general situation affects journalism not only in Sofia, but in the whole country.

The start of the survey was announced with an online discussion which was opened by Her Excellency Beat Ten Tascher, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Bulgaria. The main problems of Bulgarian journalism were commented on by leading journalists Mirolyuba Benatova, Silvia Velikova and Spas Spasov. The moderator of the discussion was Iliya Valkov.

The results of the study were announced at an event in Sofia, for which we successfully implemented a hybrid format - with audiences online and offline, so that we can ensure the health and safety of participants. It was watched by over 100 participants who actively participated in the discussions, even from a distance, and, traditionally, received wide media coverage. The whole initiative was implemented with the financial support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bulgaria.

Cooperation between the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Association of European Journalists - Bulgaria, which started in 2017 and aimed at a fuller, ethical and inclusive presence of children in public, was brought to a successful conclusion in 2020.
A series of training sessions for journalists, photojournalists and cameramen, public relations specialists, students and vloggers were developed on the basis of the Ethical Coverage Guide, which was created at the beginning of the project. During the second phase of the project, a new thematic area of ??work was added, aimed at increasing the media literacy of young people in Bulgaria, namely "Academy for Teenagers: My Right to Opinion". In the framework of the project in 2020 the manual “My right to an opinion! Creating content for social networks. Its aim was to develop skills and knowledge in young people in creating media content that follows ethical rules and the safe use of social networks. On its basis, a series of trainings on media literacy and an online hackathon for digital solutions in this field were conducted, with more than 100 young people participating in them for a period of 12 months.

During the reporting period, trainings for journalists were realized (present in Sofia and Plovdiv and online):

Academy for trainers for photojournalists and editors - part of the project "Ethical coverage of children in the media", implemented with the financial support of UNICEF (leaders Maria Cheresheva, AEJ and Nikolay Doichinov, France Presse, total number of attendees 13)

Fact-finding and anti-misinformation training - part of a project funded by the US Embassy in Bulgaria (led by Rosen Bosev AEJ, a total of 62 participants for three trainings - one online and two live - in Sofia and Plovdiv)

Training (webinar) for decision journalism - The event was part of the initiative "Let's look beyond the problems", a competition for materials in the genre of decision journalism. The webinar is organized with the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and Transitions Online. The training acquainted the participants with the basic principles of this genre, as well as with the best practices in the field. The trainer was Boryana Dzhambazova, a freelance journalist and a member of the Management Board of AEJ-Bulgaria. As part of the initiative, a scholarship was announced for journalists with an interest in developing in-depth materials. The approved proposals received funding of 500 euros and mentoring and editorial support.
Traditionally, AEJ-Bulgaria organizes a meeting of its members every first Tuesday of the month. Due to the pandemic situation, these meetings were held online. And during the summer months, several live outdoor meetings were held in Sofia, according to the requirements related to the epidemic situation.

The membership of the association increased to 101 members, of which 65 full and 36 associates. The data are towards the end of 2021.

The main focus of the AEJ team is the development and establishment of the Scoolmedia website as a leading student media for young people with an interest in journalism.
For the reporting period, the online platform has reported 17,010 unique visits, and the total number of impressions is 40,932.

During the reporting period, various activities were implemented in support of the development of media literacy for students, incl. online webinars together with Junior Achievement Bulgaria on their project Rising Stars, online meetings of leading journalists with students from different schools, organizing monthly plans with a team of young journalists, as well as the traditional monthly competitions for journalistic texts on various topics. Part of the prize fund which is realized with the gratuitous support of CIELA publishing house.

An additional incentive for young authors is the promotion of their materials through interested media and non-governmental organizations. Three of the student materials were published on the Free Europe website, and organizations such as Sofia Pride, the Bulgarian Women's Fund, the Bulgarian Family Planning Association, GLAS, etc., shared specific materials through their Facebook accounts, significantly increasing the audience.
One of the key events aimed at young people in 2020 was the online event "Enter the virtual editorial office" five-day online challenge for high school students who are interested in journalism. The event took place between July 1 and 5, with the help of the Fulbright Commission and was partially funded by the US Embassy in Bulgaria. Despite the remote format, the event was very successful and well covered by the media.

Another important event in the field of media literacy for students was the online hackathon organized on May 9, 2020: "Digital solutions for media literacy: My right to opinion." The hackathon was part of the UNICEF Teen Academy: My Right to Opinion project, funded by UNICEF in partnership with Teen Station and the Media Literacy Coalition. During the Hackathon, special attention was paid to the Scoolmedia platform, and all developed projects in the field of media literacy, which the participants developed, will be integrated into the platform, thus enriching and upgrading it. An official event was organized for the presentation of the projects in Sofia Tech Park, opened by Deputy Minister of Interior Georg Georgiev and other officials. The prizes for all participants in the hackathon were provided by VIVACOM.

From April 2020 AEJ-Bulgaria launched a series of online events on various topics in support of journalists. The webinars were held in partnership with the Webinaria.eu platform, which gave the organization free access for a period of 6 months. The online events were free of charge, but with mandatory user registration. Video recordings of all of them are published on the YouTube channel of AEJ-Bulgaria, as well as on the website of the organization. Below is a list of all online events with a hyperlink to their presentation:

First edition: 03.04.2020: Webinar for journalists: Professional and personal challenges in the period of COVID-19
Second edition: 10.04.2020: Webinar for journalists: Freedom of speech in a state of emergency
Third edition: 16.04.2020, 18:30 - Correspondents
The media during a pandemic: The foreign experience
Fourth edition 24.04.2020: Webinar for journalists: Statistics, data and lies
Fifth edition 30.04.2020: How to work in a situation of collective trauma
The Kovid 19 pandemic: new challenges for journalists and some coping techniques
Sixth edition 08.05.2020: Can we remain neutral during a pandemic?
Seventh edition 15.05.2020: How do stories from Bulgaria come into the view of the world media?
Eighth edition 21.05.2020: Online discussion "Journalism without a mask"
Ninth edition on May 29: Webinar: Children, media and pandemic
Tenth edition 26.10.2020: Ethical standards in journalism - a conversation with Prof. Nelly Ognyanova

The total number of registered for the online events is 611 people. And after each event the recordings are published on the YouTube channel of AEJ-Bulgaria, promoted on the page of the organization, where they also gain additional views.

Attracted new corporate partners: Ciela Publishing House, Bulgarian online platform Webinaria, advertising agency "B + red", consulting company InManagement, Ecograph. AEJ receives discounts from the price of their services from all partners, as well as free use of some of them.

Other activities during the reporting period include the development of two practical manuals: Guide to verify the facts in the Bulgarian digital environment - received a nomination for the award of the Bluelink Foundation "Free Electron" and "My right to opinion! Creating content for social networks - a media literacy guide for teenagers, a new handbook for journalists has been launched to help them fight against hate speech under the project "Not just words".

We have remained active in the public discussion about new regulation that concerns the media landscape in the country and we are always open for a dialogue with the institutions and the governmental authorities. Unfortunately, the unstable political situation has led to delays of the legislative reforms and those changes are yet to be observed and discussed. 

Activity Report 2021

Association of European Journalists - Bulgaria

In 2021 the Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria (AEJ-Bulgaria) continued following its mission - to enhance the media freedom in the country and to strengthen the local journalistic community. During the reporting period we have kept implementing our priorities such as organizing events and trainings for journalists and students, monitoring the media sector in the country and issuing critical statements each time we detect an infringement of ethics and freedom of speech; publishing and popularizing media analysis on our website, publishing information about opportunities for journalists, who want to develop their professional skills, exploring new opportunities for partnerships and common projects. 

Despite the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19 and the urge of going online for almost all our activities, our team has succeeded in reorganizing the internal structure and also in adapting the modules of our training in order to make them both suitable and effective in a digital environment. 

In 2021 AEJ-Bulgaria kept its major partnerships with America for Bulgaria Foundation, UNICEF, Friedrich Naumann Foundation and Fulbright Bulgaria and along with them brand new ones were given a go, namely: GLAS Foundation, Bilitis Foundation and the Shalom Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria working together on a common project called “Not Just Words”, funded by Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the EU (2014-2020); World Press Institute (WPI) for organizing a journalism conference in Sofia, Italy for EU, MAD for Europe, Mano Europa, COFAC , MHT CONSULT APS in starting a new international project dedicated to disinformation, European Commission funding a project called “DetectDesinfoNet”, which created the first fact checking platform in Bulgaria – Factcheck.bg.

Projects and partnerships

AEJ-Bulgaria has been implementing the 3rd phase of the long term partnership with the America for Bulgaria Foundation, which is set to be completed by the spring of 2022. The main goal of the project is to improve the media environment in Bulgaria by enhancing the independence of the media and supporting quality journalism and the development of media literacy among high school students. The project further aims to strengthen AEJ-Bulgaria’s institutional capacity by helping the organization maintain its role as an active defender of freedom of expression in the country. It is a sustainable continuation of two other projects – Mediator (2013-2015) and Mediator 2: A Bridge Between Ethical Journalism and the Society (2016-2019). The most important activities that has been achieved in the reporting period include: 
  • monitoring the media environment and protecting professional and ethical journalism.	
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  • improving the level of media literacy and critical thinking in the society
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  • providing training opportunities for Bulgarian journalists
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  • strengthening AEJ-Bulgaria’s administrative capacity
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  • teaching media literacy at schools
  • 
    
  • supporting students interested in journalism	
  • 
    
  • mentoring students in relation to the creation of journalistic texts and publishing 	them in the national student platform sCOOL Media
  • 
    
  • delivering a series of lectures on journalism for teenagers
	

AEJ-Bulgaria and UNICEF started collaborating in 2017 with the goal of ensuring a more inclusive and ethical presence of children in the public sphere. At the heart of the project lies the creation of a guidebook on ethical reporting on children that supports journalists and public relations professionals in their work with children. 

The website of the project provides information about the legal framework in Bulgaria, international standards, and practical advice (psychological, legal, technical, economic) about the protection of children’s best interests and the improvement of the quality of journalistic production.

During the final stage of the project we have expanded our work by focusing on improving the media literacy of young people in Bulgaria through the project My Right to an Opinion! Teenager Academy. We created the guide My Right to an Opinion! Creating Content for Social Media. 

It is designed to help young people acquire the knowledge and skills they need to create media content in line with ethical norms and the principles for safe use of social media. Based on the guide, we organized a series of media literacy trainings and an online hackathon for digital solutions in this area. 

The final product of this partnership was academic research which was focused on exploring the change in the overall attitude to children in the media outlets that have participated in the training carried out in recent years. The research also had a special analysis on how university students in the faculty for journalism in Sofia interpret the ethical coverage of children in the media. The most important highlight of the report was a set of recommendations towards all stakeholders, including media, journalists, institutions, parents, etc. that aims at enhancing the media environment as a whole. The academic report was presented during an online event in March, 2021, which reached nearly 4000 viewers. 

AEJ-Bulgaria’s partnership with Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in 2021 was focused on continuing the common initiative Chronicles of the Infodemic. It was started in 2020 and its idea is to shed light on various forms of encroachment against the truth in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 20 articles were published in Bulgarian and in English under the editorial supervision of AEJ-Bulgaria team members and in cooperation with the independent media outlet “Toest”. 

Most of the texts were published on a hard copy book, while the original cartoons that illustrate each of the pieces were presented in a special open-air exhibition in the center of Sofia for a period of two weeks (19.07-02.08.2021). A brand new initiative, supported by Friedrich Naumann Foundation, was the release of a podcast series of AEJ-Bulgaria named “Periscope”. 

Its ambition is to cover the news behind the news, to discuss media sector problems and to talk openly about them. It aims at revealing what quality journalism means and to nurture responsible media consumers in the era of fast news and disinformation. The podcasted was started in June, 2021. By the end of the year the two organizations plan to announce the second edition of the Podcast Festival, which was a huge success in November 2020. Not Just Words” is the title of a project implemented in partnership with GLAS Foundation, Bilitis Foundation and the Shalom Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria, and funded byRights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the EU. It aims to create an environment that counters hate speech, to improve the collaboration among communities affected by hate speech, and to build a national movement of like-minded individuals who prevent and oppose anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and other forms of intolerance. The project places special 

emphasis on engaging young people as ambassadors of the idea. In the first phase in 2020 the activities included: conducting in-depth interviews with people affected by hate speech and shooting videos that tell their personal stories, raising awareness among two target groups – young people and adults who don’t have a clear opinion on this issue. The second phase in 2021 was marked with publishing of a guidebook for journalists that would support them in fighting the spread of hate speech. Based on if there were a series of trainings for journalists and young people from local minority groups. Special screening of a documentary film, created by our partners, was organized for the journalism community in September. 

AEJ-Bulgaria was a partner of the World Press Institute (WPI) and America for Bulgaria in organizing the first World Press Institute conference in Bulgaria, aimed at journalists and other professionals interested in investigative journalism, freedom of expression, and new storytelling formats. At first it was supposed to take place in 2020 but then it was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally it took place on 24-25th of September 2021 and it brought to Sofia a variety of foreign professionals such as John Harris, Cofounder of Politico, Michael Montgomery, Senior Reporter/Producer from the Center for Investigative Reporting, Paul Steiger, Founder and former Editor-in-Chief of ProPublica, Camilla Bath, Journalist, Editor and Media Consultant, Joanna Krawczyk, Head of Partnerships at Gazeta Wyborcza, Pavol Szalai, Head of EU/Balkans Desk at Reporters Without Borders, Anna Babinets, Editor-in-Chief and Cofounder of Slidstvo.Info, an independent investigative journalism agency and Britta von der Heide, Head of Investigations Department at NDR, the German public broadcaster.

In the meantime, the three organizations held two online events for journalists: The Elections in the USA Through the Eyes of the Journalists (2020) and The Impact of the COVID Pandemic on Press Freedom (2021).

AEJ-Bulgaria and the Bulgarian-American Fulbright Commission have worked together since 2018. Our partnership covers media literacy and journalism initiatives for high school students as part of Media Literacy in the Classroom – a project aimed at helping Bulgarian students develop the skills they need to evaluate, interpret, and critically analyze information through a media literacy programme. 

Traditionally, we organized summer bootcamp for high school students with a demonstrated interest in journalism. The initiative was supported by the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria, America for Bulgaria Foundation, and the American University in Bulgaria. The bootcamp is the big prize for the authors of the best articles in English published in sCOOL Media – the first national platform for student journalism that provides editorial support and mentoring to prospective young journalists. However in 2021 due to the COVID-19 restrictions the bootcamp was postponed and a couple of individual trainings with high school students were carried out during their summer vacation. 

Creating a fact-checking community in Bulgaria has become one of the priorities for our organization. We have started that in 2020 by writing A Fact-Checking Guide for the Digital Environment – the first digital handbook adapted for Bulgarian databases in support of people who want to learn about fact-checking and acquire practical skills in the area. In the second phase in 2021 added another chapter to the guide that sheds light on fact-checking in social media.and then a couple of fact-check trainings for journalists were organized based on it. 

That activity was supported by Small Grants Program of the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria. Later AEJ-Bulgaria was selected for additional funding from the European commission for a project called DetectDesinfoNet which main idea is to counter the disinformation campaigns by putting ahead the facts, even before disinformation campaign starts. This is how a team of journalists was formed and they gave a go to the first fact checking platform in Bulgaria - Factcheck.bg. It quickly gained popularity by promptly detecting the appearance of disinformation campaigns, with a focus on important topics from the European Parliament agenda, and by striving to diminish their impact on the general public through intensive communication based on the checked facts. 

Stepping onto the achievements made by Factcheck.bg platform, AEJ-Bulgaria started another initiative in the field of fact-checking with a project supported by Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria under the EEA Financial Mechanism 2014-2021. The project “Science and Journalism: Together against Infodemic” started in October. It aims at building up the trust among the media and the scientific community, which was often under attack during the pandemic and that resulted in a burst of conspiratorial theories and disinformation. Among the activities planned are a handbook of guidelines for journalists and scientists that would stimulate better communication and understanding. The main partners are Norsensus Mediaforum (Norway), Trakia University, Center for Plant Systems Biology and Biotechnology and Career Development and Training Association from Bulgaria. 

AEJ-Bulgaria got involved in another new project in the field of combating disinformation by joining the international initiative “Fake the System: EU Toolkit against Disinformation”, co-funded by Erasmus +, a programme of the European Union. This international initiative unites six NGO’s namely: Italy for EU, MAD for Europe, Mano Europa, COFAC , MHT CONSULT APS and AEJ-Bulgaria. It aims at creating a toolkit that would be in favour of journalists, young people and institutions and then transforming all the best practises into a sustainable model of sharing information among peers. The Project has started in September 2021. 


Events

During the reported period AEJ-Bulgari has organized and participated (as a partner or by providing a lecturer) in a total of 45 events, including trainings, webinars, conferences, internal meetings of the AEJ-Bulgaria members community, discussions and lectures within the community of Scoolmedia, etc. Most of them are part of the already described partnerships and projects, but there are additional ones such as: 

¨- Good Information for Good Causes, training in partnership with Impact Drive 
- Digital security training, a total of 4 events in partnership with the Media literacy Coalition
- How to produce news for children, 4 trainings for journalists in partnership with the	children news platform Knigovishte.bg
- Donation Annual Report, a presentation and discussion in partnership with the 	Bulgarian Donation Forum
- Trainings for journalists in partnership with Google News Initiative - a total of two online events

Conclusions


AEJ-Bulgaria sustains its active role in the Bulgarian media landscape by staying true to our values: defending press freedom and educating journalists. We continue to gain recognition in the society for being a reliable organization which works professionally on a local and international scale. Our capacity as a team also has been improved as we were able to organize and fulfil a record number of events this year, despite the obstacles that the pandemic has set. 

Throughout the year, AEJ-Bulgaria continued to work in building better journalistic communities in the country. New members of the association have increased up to 120 members, which is double the number in 2018. . Many of them are taking active roles indiscussions within the organization, as well as in activities such as issuing critical passions about the media sector in the country. 
We have remained active inpublic discussion about new regulation that concerns the media landscape in the country and we are always open for a dialogue with the institutions andgovernment authorities. Unfortunately, the unstable political situation has led to delays to the legislative reforms and those changes are yet to be observed and discussed. 

ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2021: Irina Nedeva, Chair of AEJ-Bulgaria and Special Representative on the Issues of Fake news and disinformation 

In 2021 I continued participation in initiatives and conferences both at both the national and international level concerning the Fake news phenomenon in the so-called “Covid-Year”. The issue of disinformation on the pandemic itself and the spread of distrust among our societies was the main focus in the conferences I took part in. 

For three months, from January to March 2021 I took part in the British Embassy Initiative Ambassador for a Day that encourages young girls and women to act, to educate, and to dream. As part of the judging panel I was selecting the laureates of the essay competition on the topic of Fake news. Later on I worked with the nominated young women and finally I took part in the high profile event organized by the Presidency of the Republic of Bulgaria and the UK Embassy.

I was part of European Broadcast Union training during the whole year. 
In February 2021 I myself as a certificated Master Trainer to deliver the learning tips and knowledge, organized three training sessions for radio reporters, independent journalists, and civil activists on cybersecurity and countering disinformation based on my special intensive training as a Master Trainer organized by TechSoap Europe on Countering Disinformation and Digital Security for journalists and activists.

The Impact of the COVID Pandemic on Press Freedom was one of the main issues I talked about at many seminars and conferences held online during the whole year.

I was speaking on the topic during the annual Innovation Explorer in Sofia (February 2021) – a format of a conference similar to TED (https://www.innovationexplorer.bg/2021.php) 
On March 3 2021 I attended the “Media4Europe Summit: towards a healthy European news media” that followed the keynote speech given by Vera Jourová, the European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency, and the EP debate “The disinformation dilemma: How to respond and regulate without undermining democracy?”

On March 26, 2021 I also participated in the EBU Academy Online Learning Session on Why Public Service Media need to tackle the challenge of cybersecurity. On March 31I took part in an international panel on Anti Corruption investigations and the media in the region, organized by the AntiCorruption Fund.

On April 5, 2021I was invited to moderate the national conference of the “Coalition for Green Restart” with our partners from MOVE.BG. Before the second preliminary parliamentary election in Bulgaria I was again invited to moderate the political debate on “Green restart:mission is possible”. The series ofso-called “Green debates” concluded on 28 of September 2021 with an event co-produced with the UK and Italian ambassadorsas a pre-conferences to the Glasgow COP26.

2021 is the year when AEJ-Bulgaria and I personally became an elected member of the Council for Civil Society Organization to the Council of Ministers. AEJ-Bulgaria was invited to join the founding members of the Council for Journalistic Ethics and I personally to become a member of the Board of the Council and to be part of the Ethical Commission.

On June 1, 2021 I was a panelist at the international conference on “Russian Media Influence in Europe: The Case of Bulgaria” organized by Center for Study of Democracy.
On June4 and 10,2021 I took part as a panelist at the Liberty Forum, an international conference organized by Atlas Network - “Media in Difficult Times”.

On September 24, 2021 I opened the conference co-organized by the World Press Institute (WPI) and AEJ-Bulgaria on “New Horizons in Journalism” 

On September 26, 2021, together with Prof. Dean Starkman I took part in the panel discussion on Media Freedom and Ownership - Strategies for Strengthening Democracies during crises of representation:https://www.fulbright.bg/en/fis-2021/ 
On September 30, 2021 I was a panelist at the Conference on the Future of Europe: A vivid Europe from below - Media Freedom and Shrinking of Civic Space: The Cases of Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria ONLINE 

GREECE

www.aej.gr E-mail: [email protected]

The Greek section had its elections on July

Board 2021-2024

Isaia Tsaousidou President

Myrna Nikolaidou Vice President

Lampros Rodis Secretary General

Efi Ntini Treasurer

Members

Juli Ndriko

Michael Kazas

Panagiotis Sfaelos International Relations Officer

Unfortunately we lost two colleagues this year.

Panos Drakopoulos, founding member of the Greek section and

Michalis Kazas member of the Board.

His place in the board is taken by Spyros Latsas

Due to the corona virus we have been holding meetings with our members via internet. Our topics had to do with misinformation and false news as well as the working conditions of journalists, unemployment, etc.

During the year we visited important people and presented the Association of European Journalists. The interest was great

We are planning a lot of things for 2022. One of them is our big General Assembly and Congress in the autumn of 2022 in the region of Central Greece.

We hope everything goes well and we hope to have you all with us. We will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Int. AEJ and the 40th anniversary of the Greek section.

Isaia Tsaousidou Lampros Rodis

President of AEJ Greece Sec. Gen. of AEJ, Greece


HUNGARY

2021

The year 2020 and 2021 did not bring any positive changes concerning the situation of the media in Hungary. Media pluralism is under permanent attack, Index online portal was overtaken, Klub Rádió’s air broadcasting license was taken away and was forced to broadcast online, public service media is totally under the supervision of the government, private media is with a few exceptions in the hands of government friendly businessmen. Only two nationwide commercial TV channels are left untouched, local radio stations except one are all under supervision. What is more or less still independent is online media, though there are ongoing attempts to overtake the most popular ones.

The Hungarian Section, especially the board kept up its activities though on a much lower level of enthusiasm due to the pandemic and the general lack of interest from the membership. We held a few online meetings, and even physical ones during the summertime.

Last but not least in 2020 and this year, during the pandemic we fulfilled an important task closely connected with our best professional traditions. We wanted to place a plaque to commemorate the late Péter Ruffy (1914-1993), who was an outstanding journalist and writer, an exceptional representant of liberal-conservative journalistic tradition in Hungary.

He was a Hungarian patriot and at the same time a European citoyen, speaking fluently French and German. One year after the change of the system, in 1991 he got among the first the Hungarian Pulitzer Award. With the support of our Board we initiated that a plaque should be laid on the house in the II. District of Budapest where he lived more than 50 years.

The Hungarian Section of AEJ contributed to the financial burden as well. As a result since the 12th of September 2021 the plaque draws the attention of passers-by on the simple but difficult task of real journalism, which is to tell the truth in any time and any country.

Besides permanently monitoring the local media scene please find below a collection of our activities worth mentioning on the international level, and some questions to the International Board!

These friendly and constructive questions came to our minds, which might be relevant to all members of our association:

We would like to know what happened to the section surveys sent to the board?

We would like to read the board members reports, if possible?

Were there any Board meetings, if so can we have a look at the minutes?

We haven’t come across the agenda for the General Assembly.

By tradition it has always been approved by the sections well in advance.

Best regards

József Martin president

József Horváth secretary

A collection of our statements:

Public statement on the Index scandal

Protest against the ruination of Index

Statement of the Board of the Hungarian Section of AEJ

The Board of the Hungarian Section of AEJ expresses its solidarity with Mr. Szabolcs Dull, the sacked Index editor-in-chief and with the whole staff of the news portal, who unanimously left their working place as a rare example of moral and professional solidarity.

The sophisticated and constant mine work by government officials or persons who are close to the government abolished an iconic news portal of the Hungarian online media landscape after the change of the system in 1989.

Almost one million media users – including many Fidesz-voters and leading politicians – visited daily this news portal, which some years ago was labeled as „fake news outlet” by the Hungarian prime minister. The high popularity of Index was due not only to its great variety of news, opinion articles and many investigative reports, but also to its mission based on the Anglo-Saxon tradition, to analyse without bias the activity of government and opposition whoever it was. I

ts ruination, against which several thousand people protested on Friday, July 24th, 2020 in Budapest, is a clear-cut continuation of media politics of Fidesz: in the case of the public media, of regional press, of news portal Origo, political dailies Népszabadság and Magyar Nemzet and weekly Heti Válasz the reference on the advantages of centralisation and on economic argues served nothing but the abolishing of critical voices – either by shutting down the medium or by a radical change of direction -, and the creation of loyalty as the only standard.

By the abolition of the old Index media-pluralism is hurt severely, and the number of independent media had been decreased: there is media freedom – yet -, but the part of the free media is gradually decreasing.

The Board of Hungarian Section agrees with Vera Jourová’s Statement; the Vice President of the European Commission was drawing the attention on the dangers because of the attack on Index and the Board is highly appreciating the huge international protest against the the ruination of the popular news-portal.

But this is not enough: we expect protesting statements by other forums of the European Union, and there should be as much protests as possible in Hungary and abroad, because the scandal about the Index is clearly proving the limited rule of law interpretation of the Fidesz-government, its intemperate politics based on the interest of power, which – if regarded „necessary” – ignores freedom and press freedom being one of the most fundamental and universal values.

The Board of the Hungarian Section of AEJ

Budapest, 25-7-2020.


IRELAND

AEJ Ireland doesn’t have a lot to report this year. Our section has been virtually dormant as Covid restrictions meant we couldn’t hold our monthly lunches and there was very little appetite for virtual presentations. For those who were interested however, the AEJ continued to collaborate with the Institute of International and European Affairs, and members attended some of their virtual sessions, particularly during their 30th anniversary celebrations, dealing with European and Anglo-Irish affairs. AEJ members also worked the EU Commission Rep on the Smedias (student media awards).

One bright spark was the election of colleague Simone Rapple as International Vice-President at the last General Assembly and we are now looking forward to a resumption of in-person activities from next month, when Covid restrictions have eased further. Unfortunately, we lost two leading members of our organisation this year … neither to Covid, thankfully. Rodney Rice, late of RTE, died after a short illness in August. In his obituary, colleague Deaglán de Bréadún described him as an ‘AEJ member, RTE journalist and an advocate of the dispossessed.’ Earlier in the year, the Association was stunned by the sudden death of Mike Burns, who had also worked for RTE and will have been well known to some of our British colleagues from his time as London Correspondent. Mike was one of the founding members of AEJ Ireland and remained a constant supporter to the end. Our Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Mícheál Martin called him ‘a giant of journalism’ For more on the above, see www.aej.ie

Richard Moore, Tim Ryan and Eileen Dunne


ITALY

AGE ITALIAN SECTION. AEJ/AJEINTEGRATION REPORT 2020/2021

The AGE, the Italian section of the AEJ, in addition to the first report 2020/21, containing the activities carried out until 31 July 2021, today sends you an update of the activities in place since August and that will follow until December 2021

August 2021 Update and Reorganisation of our section. definire nuove attività September 2021 Age Italy set up the Youth Section, establishing an agreement with the University of Rome, where meetings were held with teaching staff and students studying journalism in the communication degree course.

There are already many university journalism students who have joined the AGE, free of charge, and they will be useful for a generational change of the Italian section.

October 2021 We held a board meeting and planned a series of “Europe Meetings” in our Italian section. These meetings will be held by videoconference with economists, sociologists, journalists who will discuss with our members current issues related to European affairs, as well as current problems of journalism in Europe.

AGE Italy wants to open these videoconferences also to members of other European sections, to whom it will communicate from time to time the access codes Zoom and/or Google Meet. November 2021. On 19/11/2021 AGE Italy will hold the first Europe Meeting with Prof. Giuseppe Pennisi, economist, for 18 years at the World Bank in Washington, DC, who will speak on the topic of “Europe after Merkel.”

AGE will extend this invitation to all the international sections of the AEJ that are interested in this topic and will send them the access codes to the videoconference.

New Member In Age Italy, six new journalist members have been enrolled and will be registered from January 2022.

An intense information activity is underway to make AGE/AJE known, especially to young professional journalists, in order to encourage a greater number of members trained on European issues and on the problems of international journalism.

Kind regards.

Giuseppe Jacobini Secretary General AGE Italian Section of AEJ

cell.+393358302691

[email protected]


SLOVAKIA 2020/21

Chairman: Ivan Brada

SG: Tibor Macak

The AEJ Slovak section stabilized its membership base and now have 50 members mostly young active journalists. During a coronavirus pandemic most of the activities were based on member´s personal experience at different levels of journalistic profession. The Slovak section published some statements on current topics in the country:

on 5. 9. 2020 the AEJ Slovak Section, were sadly appalled at the ruling of the Specialised Criminal Court in Slovakia, which acquitted the two main accused in the process with parties to the premeditated murder of journalist Ján Kuciakand his fiancee Martina Kušnírova in February 2018. Businessman Marián Kočner and his associate Alena Zsuzsová were accused of having contracted and facilitated the murders. The court sentenced only the two perpetrators and one mediator of the criminal act, while releasing those who contracted the killing on insufficient evidence.

In a Statement from 3.9.2021 the AEJ Slovak Section expressed solidarity with journalists and the media, which the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Slovak Republic created an obstacle to free profession, when on September 2, 2021 it prevented them from directly attending the press conference of Attorney General Maros Zilinka.

The chairman of the AEJ Slovak Section, Ivan Brada, received an award for investigative reporting by the Slovak Literary Fund and the Open Society Foundation. His television report was also in the finals of the prestigious media competition for the best European journalism Prix Europa 2021. In this prestigious competition were AEJ Slovak section Sec Gen and AEJ Int. vice president Tibor Macak member of jury in the category TV documentary of investigative journalism.

Our colleagues Anna Šípošová from Slovak section, recorded reports in Iraq, Ukraine, and Uganda. Some members of the AEJ Slovak Section participated in a survey of the political orientation of Slovak journalists. The research was conducted by Andrej Skolkay, director of the School of Communication and Media SKAMBA. The result of the research was the so-called political compass.

Bratislava / Berlin, November 2021


TURKEY 

Problems of press freedom, attacks on journalists, government pressure on independent media were the main concerns of AEJ Turkey during the year 2020 and in the first half of 2021.

Together with several other Turkish journalists’ associations and believing in the necessity of strong solidarity among them, AEJ Turkey, participated in all joint statements, street protests and press freedom campaigns.You cannot silence journalists” and “Journalism cannot be prosecuted” were two of those campaigns that included street protests, joint statements and some panels.

AEJ Turkey representative L. Doğan Tılıç was speaker in many of those panels and meetings.   

L. Doğan Tılıç, Ankara

UK 

AEJ UK Annual reports for the period January 2020 to September 2021 The UK Section has 40 members. The lockdown from March 2020 and later restrictions have stopped us from holding in-person meetings. International speakers at our online events joined us from the USA, Brussels, Moscow, Berlin and Lithuania. Meeting participants have included UK-based foreign journalists and members of other AEJ Sections.   Informative reports and audio recordings of AEJ UK meetings are posted on www.aej-uk.org . So is current topical info on media freedom, the evolving UK-EU relationship and other media news.   AEJ UK Speakers January 2020 to September 2021   2020 January (in person): Rory Stewart, expelled from the Conservative Parliamentary Party for voting against a no-deal Brexit, spoke as an independent candidate for mayor of London   February (in person): Chief spokesperson for the National Cyber Security Centre, Nicola Hudson   March (in person): Jeff Kingston of Temple University, Tokyo, on China’s growing great power status   June (online): Washington-based journalist and polymath Llewellyn King, of the White House Chronicle, correctly predicted that Trump would be soundly beaten by Joe Biden in November’s election.   July: Polish European Peoples Party MEP, Danuta Huebner on Brexit negotiations, EU response to the pandemic & upcoming presidential election in Poland.   September: US-based British climate scientist, Professor Bob Watson, looked ahead critically to the COP 26 conference in Glascow in late 2021.     November: Can Yeginsu, top UK human rights barrister of Turkish origin, on the essential link between media freedom and the rule of law. Yeginsu is on the High Level Panel of 15 legal experts on media freedom, linked to the Global Media Freedom Coalition of (now 50) countries.      December: Catherine McGuinness, chair of the influential Policy and Resources Committee of the City of London Corporation, on the outlook for the City after Brexit.    2021 Speakers (all online)   February: Ekaterina Schulmann, Moscow-based political scientist, on Russia in an election year: Protest and political landscapes   March: Ed Balls, former leading Labour politician and TV celebrity on the perils of Brexit   April: Joao Vale de Almeida, EU Ambassador to the UK – On the first 100 days since January 1st and the signing of the main Brexit agreement, the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA)    May: From Berlin, Die Welt columnist Alan Posener offered an early political Obituary of Angela Merkel before her retirement at September’s Bundestag elections   June: Darius Semaska, Lithuanian Ambassador for Hybrid Threats and Resilience, on Information Wars, subversion and a call for stronger Western solidarity against Russian threats   September: Brendan Simms, Cambridge historian and director of the Centre for Geopolitics, on “Will the UK break up after Brexit”?   

Charles Jenkins, AEJ UK Secretary

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