NMC CEO stresses professional witness journalism as an antidote to AI manipulation
Independent, pluralist, responsible journalism emerged as a central theme of a major conference staged by the Council of Europe and the Latvian government. Delegates including prominent public policymakers recognized the news media as a pivotal force in fostering trust, combating polarization, and ensuring public accountability.
The conference, “The Pen is Mightier than the Sword? Meeting today’s challenges to freedom of expression and the safety of journalists,” was held in Riga on 5th and 6th October 2023, and served as a platform for the exchange of ideas, reaffirming the commitment to freedom of expression and media safety in Council of Europe member states. The event marked the official launch of the Council of Europe’s Campaign for the Safety of Journalists.
News Media Coalition’s Chief Executive Andrew Moger participated as a speaker at the high-level conference. During a wide-ranging panel intervention, he set out a key requirement:
‘The ability of professional journalists, including reporters, news photographers and video journalists to witness events of public interest and to provide objective accounts must be safeguarded from control and censorship. It provides opportunities for social change, creates communities of shared interest and informs citizens including the young about real-world events.’
However, the challenges outlined in the official conclusions reveal the stark reality faced by journalists. The persistent harassment, often leading to self-censorship and mental stress, calls for urgent attention. Professional solidarity, the lack of effective deterrent mechanisms, and the need for guarantees and support for free and safe journalism were emphasized as critical components in this battle for journalistic freedom.
The conference also stressed the significance of investing in investigative journalism, recognising it as a powerful tool for unearthing actions that could undermine public interests and democratic principles. Measures to counter threats and attacks on journalists, ensure accountability, and discourage a culture of impunity were deemed necessary.
The conference firmly declared that the safety of journalists is integral to democratic security. It stressed that media, in playing a significant role in influencing a nation’s security interests, must be protected for the stability and well-being of a society.
The challenges posed by unlawful speech, hate speech, and speech inciting violence were acknowledged, with a call for careful delineation between freedom of expression and speech that poses clear threats to democratic societies.
The urgency of the Council of Europe’s Campaign on the safety of journalists was underscored, offering a comprehensive framework and guidance for member states to translate their commitment into concrete actions. The necessity for genuine ownership, coordinated action, increased international cooperation, and tailored protection measures were emphasized for meaningful progress.
In conclusion, the Riga conference not only reaffirmed the principles of freedom of expression and journalist safety but also set the stage for concrete actions through the Council of Europe’s Campaign. As the echoes of the discussions continue, the call for unwavering commitment to truth and journalistic integrity resonates, challenging us all to ensure that the pen remains mightier than the sword in the face of evolving threats.