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State of media freedom ‘still sombre’

Saturday 05 Nov 2011
The realities of media freedom worldwide remain sombre, the Director-General of Deutsche Welle, Erik Bettermann, told a forum in New Delhi today.

Erik Bettermann

“Free and independent media is a significant factor for a functioning democracy,” he said in a keynote address to the ABU/FES Seminar held alongside the ABU’s annual meetings.

“The most important precondition for a democratic media system is the political and economic independence of the media and a legal framework to guarantee its independent status.”

Even in the European Union, the press freedom situation was deteriorating, he said.

He quoted Reporters Without Borders as saying the defence of media freedom continued to be a battle, a battle of vigilance in the democracies of old Europe and a battle against oppression and injustice in the totalitarian regimes still scattered across the globe.

At the same time, he said, media professionals faced great challenges brought about not only by political and social transformations but by rapidly developing media technologies as never before.

People on the streets could influence political discussion by opening up new channels of information.

“The Arab Spring is the most current example of the ever increasing importance of social media in political and social developments,” Mr Bettermann said.

The call for quality journalism was getting stronger amid the mass of information. Journalists should remain as objective as possible and report accurately and pluralistically.

The daylong seminar on ‘Media and Good Governance’ was organised by the ABU and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation of Germany.