WEF honours Iranian journalist and calls for press freedom

The World Editors Forum, which met in 2009 in Hyderabad, is holding its annual conference this year in Hamburg, Germany. It has honoured the Iranian journalist Ahmed Zeid-Abadi with the Golden Pen award, and called for greater efforts to protect press freedom.

Here is the report in journalism.co.uk. Recalling the difficult circumstances of the awardee’s work, the president of WEF, Xavier Vidal-Folch said, “Though we honour Mr Zeid-Abadi here today, it is also important to remember the other jailed journalists, the ones who don’t win awards but nevertheless suffer under despotic regimes, We should never forget them and we in the international newspaper community should do our utmost to win their release.”

Mr. Vidal-Folch may as well have been speaking about the Indian scene, where elected leaders with the mind of despots have for long been intimidating the media, particularly the newspapers, using the criminal defamation law. The record of courts chilling free speech using the contempt jurisdiction is another persisting issue.

We cannot but recall the intimidatory tactics adopted by the Jayalalithaa regime in 2002-03, with a rash of defamation cases and arrest warrants issued by the legislature for breach of privilege. This infamous route seems to appeal in great measure to the current dispensation led by Mr. Karunanidhi, and the government has also been resorting to defamation proceedings against opposition politicians.  It is useful to remember that the public exchequer is depleted in all such cases and the legal costs generally are not met out of the pockets of politicians. In some cases, the government is willing to help its supporters when they file defamation cases,  and promptly arresting journalists.

Google’s understanding of its own place in the media universe and how the producers of content view it is in this post, covering the keynote address by the search engine major’s vice-president for Northern and Central Europe, Philipp Schindler.  The question that Google was asked: Are newspapers making the eggs and is Google eating the omelette?

The European Journalism Centre provides resources, and is livestreaming some events from WEF. Gunter Grass spoke at the meeting, and cautioned that having a lot of news out there is not necessarily equal to having great knowledge, and called for journalism of high standards.

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