Closing statement of the Nordic press freedom conference

The following statement is a wrap-up of presentations and debates among panels and audience through the six hour conference about Press freedom in a Nordic modern media landscape, held in Helsinki May 2, 2016. The conference is arranged by NJC for Nordic Council of Ministers.

250 years ago Finland and Sweden as the first countries in the world introduced the act of Liberty of the Press.

Today press freedom as a prerequisite for freedom of expression is recognized as a fundamental pillar for our democracies.

Eight Nordic countries have undertaken the duty to maintain and develop press freedom, which has been invaluable for the development for the peaceful and consensus driven democracies, where everyone as free and equal individuals have the possibility to participate.

When opinions are divided and we allow that through an open dialogue, our societies thrives as best.

Når de nordiske lande står sammen, bliver der lyttet internationalt. Det sagde kulturminister Bertel Haarder (DK) på konferencen Press Freedom in a Nordic modern media landscape

Når de nordiske lande står sammen, bliver der lyttet internationalt. Det sagde kulturminister Bertel Haarder (DK) på konferencen Press Freedom in a Nordic modern media landscape

FOR THE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT, the conference 2nd May 2016 in Helsinki encourage the Nordic countries to

  • Constantly review the legislation and remove restrictions on media and journalists and thereby enhance the environment for investigative journalism
  • Ensure act of information with full transparency in the legislative development
  • Enhance the development of journalism driven by an innovation of new possibilities thanks to the technological development
  • Promote self-regulation through independent press council bodies and avoid mechanisms leading to censorship including self-censorship
  • Ensure a gender balanced and a pluralistic media landscape including strong public service media.
  • Fight threats on journalists and media which today increasingly happen online as harassments against female journalists in particular have escalated
  • Notice that new citizens, refugee journalists in a significant way can contribute and take active part in the media.

WE MUST NEVER TAKE PRESS FREEDOM FOR GRANTED. By constantly focusing this fundamental right and addressing any challenge of it, the Nordic countries should also globally promote the development of the media. The conference urges the Nordic governments to

  • Understand the need of the development of free and independent media worldwide as prerequisites for countries concerned as well as for our global society.
  • Maintain and develop the financial support for the media development projects carried out in countries and regions in conflict, crises and catastrophes.
  • Emphasize that only through confidence and trust, projects can be driven achieving significant results
  • Realize that Nordic support always should be undertaken as demand-driven projects in partnership with relevant local and regional organizations in the countries and regions concerned.
  • Continue the policy that media support is driven regardless of government in power

THE NORDIC GOVERNMENTS and all stakeholders in the media should follow-up the recommendations by consolidating the fundamental ideas among the citizens in the Nordic countries by

  • Implement in the educational sector the understanding of press freedom and the development of this fundamental right that we cannot take for granted.
  • Consider how the Nordic countries can develop media literacy to meet challenges, that citizens meet in the media in transition in the digital development.
  • Develop tools and material to enhance the dialogue about the important elements and mechanisms to improve press freedom.
  • Consider how to support the ongoing development of quality of journalism.
  • Continue this dialogue at the folk meetings now taking place in all the Nordic countries and at other events where development of dialogue is in focus.

By such a comprehensive follow up this conference urges governments, parliaments, journalist- and media organizations together with the citizens to take the responsibility to maintain and develop press freedom.

Helsinki, May 2, 2016