Forum urged to adopt a resolution on Alan Johnston

DUBAI — Emphasising the need for international measures to protect journalists, the chairman of London Press Club, UK, Donald Trelford, urged the Arab Media Forum to immediately adopt a resolution for the release of BBC reporter Alan Johnston, who is being held hostage by militants in Gaza.

By A Staff Reporter

Published: Thu 26 Apr 2007, 8:35 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:44 AM

Quoting statistics on ‘The Rights and Privileges of Media Professionals’ in the two-day conference, Johnston said over the last 10 years two journalists have perished in the line of duty each week and the toll continues to go up.

“Some news organisations have stopped sending journalists to high-risk areas, such as Iraq. As a result the public has limited access to information,” he said and demanded that “killing of journalists should be treated as war crime.”

Trelford urged the international community to take action, including imposing sanctions, against countries which do not bring journalists’ killers to book.

Focusing on the dangers faced by journalists while reporting from politically-sensitive zones and investigating corruption in politics, Edmond Saab, editor-in-chief of Al Nahar newspaper, Lebanon, believed there were two kinds of truths in the Arab world.

“One is official truth, sought by journalists to serve the public. The other is public opinion, which is expressed out of free will. Journalists also face obstacles while seeking truth, sometimes with dire consequences. Unfortunately, when a journalist goes beyond the policy of the government, he risks arrest and politically-motivated death, as happened in Lebanon lately.”

The experts agreed on the need for support structures for journalists in combat zones, including training courses, comprehensive insurance, and regular communication links among journalists and their families and news bureaux.

Delegates also observed that institutions were required to adequately train journalists as professionals of international standards.

Mohammad Yousef, chairman of UAE Journalists’ Association, said, “The training centres and programmes in the region do not focus on media personnel. While technology and information sectors are fast developing, journalists hardly have any access to training on the use of technology.”

The delegates also maintained that competition was marring media ethics and it was time news organisations conducted regular training programmes for their staff.

More news from