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PRIME TIME FOR TOLERANCE:JOURNALISM AND THE CHALLENGE OF RACISM, IFJ

BILBAO DECLARATION Journalists from 70 countries meeting in Bilbao, May 2-4, 1997 at the IFJ World Conference “ Prime Time for Tolerance”, recognising the threat to peace and democracy from increasing racial violence in urban communities, widespread religious intolerance, war and genocide arising from ethnic rivalry, and prejudice against national minorities on the basis of language and social status; believing that diversity is a fundamental reality of human society, a means of cultural enrichment and a stimulus for economic and social development; affirming that tolerance actively pursued with full public access to media is necessary to realise diversity’s potential; condemning all attempts to and acts of manipulation of media and to use journalism for purposes of propaganda in racial, ethnic and social violence; deploring that excessive commercialisation is leading to professional indifference to the impact of racism and intolerance; insisting that governments have no proper role to play in the regulation of media content and journalistic ethics; declare that all journalists at national, regional and international level must join together to reassert the core journalistic principles of professional independence and respect for the truth in order to fulfil the mission of media in support of citizenship, tolerance and democracy. In support of this objective, the Conference concludes that legal, social and professional conditions need to be improved in all regions. However, journalists themselves must be aware that ignorance and a lack of appreciation of different cultures, traditions and beliefs within media leads to stereotypes which reinforce racist attitudes and strengthen the appeal of political extremists. In particular, journalists need to be aware of the potential impact of their words and images given the deeply-rooted fears and apprehension of civil strife and social exclusion that exist within society. Therefore, the Conference agrees that the IFJ and its member unions must adopt new strategies to combat intolerance and violations of journalists rights. The Conference recommends the following lines of action: 1. Support of Editorial Independence, Self-Regulation and Ethical Conduct All journalists’ unions must reaffirm editorial independence and the right of journalists to report free from external and internal pressure. Such freedom of expression should be balanced against the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. Material that incites hatred is unacceptable. In support of self-regulation journalists should promote professional solidarity, high ethical standards and the right to resolve ethical dilemmas according to conscience. In particular, the IFJ and journalists’ unions should support guidelines and style manuals for journalists on racism issues. Independent self-regulatory bodies, where they exist, should be representative, inclusive and reflect the ethnic composition of society. 2. Diversity Within Media Journalists’ unions should demand media recruitment policies which encourage journalists from ethnic or minority communities to enter mainstream journalism. Newsrooms should reflect the ethnic composition of society. Journalism training must address issues of discrimination and intolerance. Unions should work with journalism schools to encourage more students of different ethnic backgrounds to enter journalism training. Journalists and media organisations must promote inclusive coverage of the community. including the use of sources of information from minority communities. 3. Industry Co-operation and Solidarity Journalists and media employers should have increased dialogue to better understand the role of media in confronting intolerance and should act jointly to improve media performance including, where appropriate, joint actions to eliminate racism in journalism.. In this regard, employers should recognise codes of conducts and guidelines promoted by journalists unions. Dialogue should be encouraged between media outlets serving minority communities and mainstream media. 4. International Standards The IFJ should promote and circulate international and regional conventions, texts and declarations which are relevant to journalists in the area of tolerance through the provision of handbooks and materials which provide useful examples and case studies at a regional level. In recognition of 1998 -- the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- the IFJ should develop a project in defence of human rights and ethical journalism. 5. Raising Awareness The IFJ and its members should convene projects and activities which promote inclusive coverage and the positive role of journalism in creating a culture of peace and which will ensure journalists are made aware of codes and guidelines and their usefulness in resolving ethical dilemmas. The IFJ and its members should monitor and report on media performance in the area of intolerance and bring discussion of these issues into the mainstream of union activity. The IFJ should set up on its world-wide web site a “Journalism for Tolerance” page to: give journalists advice on how to counter hate speech; provide information on national strategies for unions organising for tolerance; have links to unions which have developed practical programmes in this area and links to other relevant sources of information; outline IFJ policy and activities on matters of tolerance which will provide guidance on initiating social dialogue and joint activity with other trade unions. suggest appropriate clauses for collective agreements covering recruitment, training and diversity in the newsroom 6. Internal Structures Journalists should debate how best to make their structures accessible to journalists from minority or excluded groups. Unions should consider setting up working groups to deal with issues of intolerance. 7. Tolerance and Women in Media The Conference notes and endorses the conclusions of the workshop on gender and media which found that media ignore women or represent them in the form of stereotypes. Discrimination is revealed in the failure of newsrooms to reflect gender and ethnic balance. The findings of the workshop should be considered for action by the IFJ in its programme to combat intolerance. Finally, the Conference recommends that the IFJ congress in 1998 should adopt a comprehensive programme to promote activities designed to strengthen professional engagement in defence of tolerance, human rights and democracy. The Conference recommends that the IFJ organise a further meeting to review progress towards achieving the objectives of this declaration within two years. Bilbao, May 4th 1997