In his closing remarks at the ninth consecutive Global Media Forum on Wednesday, DW Director General Peter Limbourg drew attention to European values. In discussing our values with others, we receive an important reflection on those values that we in Germany and in Europe consider worth protecting and sharing. But we do not always live up to our own values.
“Looking at the sale of arms, the pollution of the environment and in cases of cooperation with corrupt regimes, these are strong reminders that we need to live up to our own values before we can start preaching them to others,” he was quoted as saying by a DW media release.
More than 2,000 participants from 110 countries came together in the former West German capital for the three-day annual Global Media Forum. Challenging subjects were addressed under the banner of “Media. Freedom. Values.” Many journalists face difficult situations in countries around the world. The role of the media, freedom of expression and the values that need protecting were considered at the conference.
German President Joachim Gauck had an inspiring message for the participants of the conference and reminded journalists from around the world of their shared responsibility.
“Never before have we had so many possibilities for acquiring information as we have today. But we see at the same time the increasing possibilities for manipulation and disinformation.“For this reason it is so necessary to enshrine the media whose hallmark is one of reliable journalism, one which you can continue to trust,” he urged.
One of the most inspiring moments of this year’s Global Media Forum was when Sedat Ergin, editor-in-chief of the Turkish daily newspaper Hürriyet, received the Deutsche Welle Freedom of Speech Award.
Upon accepting the award, Ergin said: “Issues related to freedom of expression are increasingly apparent not only in third world countries, dictatorships and monarchies, but also in countries claiming to be democracies.
“The European continent is no longer immune to this authoritarian tendency.”
In his laudation for the Turkish editor, fellow journalist and publisher of the German newspaper “BILD”, Kai Diekmann made it abundantly clear: “The freedom of the press is a valuable and noble good. We must not tire of addressing the terrible state of the freedom of the press and opinion in Turkey.”
Some reactions from Turkish media close to the ruling party were extreme, a reminder of the pressure which journalists are working under in Turkey.
The important role of bloggers and activists in societies without true freedom of speech was on the agenda of the GMF once again.
Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef came to Bonn to take part in the award ceremony for The Bobs, awards given out by Deutsche Welle to honour the best international online activists and their work.
The German Commissioner for Human Rights Policy Bärbel Kofler joined a panel with bloggers from Bangladesh who are now living under asylum in Germany and other European countries.
Attacked by Islamist extremists and offered no protection by their government, journalists whose lives are in danger in their home countries were the topic of a discussion at the Forum aimed at raising more awareness for the need for asylum, the media release said.
Journalist and author Martin Walker gave a grim status report of where the future of media may be heading.
International speakers on several panels at the conference made it clear that media are at a turning point.
The shift to an ever more important role of direct dialogue with people around the world through social media opens new opportunities for journalism.
DW’s Director General Limbourg said: “This is an opportunity that media have to seize to be able to truly make a difference.”