Journalists worldwide should strive for press freedom and decent working conditions at a time when their safety has become a major issue, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) told a news conference in Taipei yesterday.
After the international press freedom group Reporters Without Borders established its first Asia office in Taiwan last year, the IFJ — which represents about 600,000 journalists from countries where it has member unions — is holding its executive committee meeting and annual general meeting today and tomorrow in Taipei.
During the two-day meetings, reporters and union representatives from more than 20 countries are to address press freedom and safety issues.
Press freedom — the primary right of journalists — is much larger than on a political level, for it is also related to the working conditions of journalists, federation president Philippe Leruth said, adding that media ownership is another threat.
While press freedom is respected in Taiwan, journalists in many other countries have to worry about their safety at work and it is a “scandal” that many murderers of journalists around the world remain unpunished, he said.
Asked about the impact of social media on traditional media, Leruth said that at a time when anyone on the Internet can claim to be a journalist, professional journalists should make a difference by publishing fact-checked information and convince people that “information has a price.”
To improve their working conditions, journalists should join forces in their country and make their union stronger, he said, in response to media questions.
Federation vice president Sabina Inderjit said that younger reporters should regard their work as a form of “public service” and social responsibility, instead of just a business operation as most people might think.
While press freedom is a lesser problem in Taiwan, local journalists should guard against improper foreign influence, as a “free market is not always free,” Association of Taiwan Journalists general secretary Ian Chen (陳益能) said.
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