WPFD 2016: Nordic event on press freedom

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



Nordic Council of Ministers asked NJC to arrange a Nordic-focused pre-event prior to the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day in Helsinki 2016. Read it here.

• UNESCO World Press Freedom Day conference was May 3-4.
• Nordic Council of Ministers’ pre-event was May 2.
• Where: Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland.

Responsible for the programme:
Mogens Blicher Bjerregaard, President, European Federation of Journalists
Ole Rode Jensen, Nordic Journalism Centre

Conference Programme – May 2, 2016 

10.00 Opening of the conference
Minister of Transport and Communications and Minister of Nordic cooperation Anne Berner (FIN)
• President of Nordic Federation of Journalists, Thomas Spence (N)

AM session: The current state of the Nordics

10.15 Nordic legislation concerning media
• An assessment of legislation on media and journalists in the Nordic countries, by Director of Press Freedom Programmes, International Press Institute, Scott Griffen (A)
• Access to information act, Head of Research emeritus, Danish School of Media and Journalism, Oluf Jørgensen (DK)

10.50 Impact of legislation and civic society on media freedom, equality, and safety
• Moderator, President of the Finnish Union of Journalists, Hanne Aho (FIN)
• News Editor, Kringvarp Føroyar, Liljan Weihe (FO)
• Executive director, International Modern Media Institute in Reykjavik, Guðjón Idir Guðnýjarson (IS) on new Icelandic Media legislation
• Senior researcher, Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus, Aina Landsverk Hagen (N) on online threats against journalists
• Swedish Press Associastions’ Joint Ethics Committee, Ulrica Widsell (S) on self-censorship

12.00 New voices: How refugees regard Nordic media.
• Moderator, journalist at Dagbladet Information, Charlotte Aagaard (DK)
• Syrian refugee journalist Lilas Hatahet (DK)
• Syrian refugee journalist Ali Alabdallah (S)
• Iranian refugee journalist Leila Saadati (N)
• Iranian refugee journalist Sheida Jahanbin (N)

13.00 Lunch break

PM session: Nordic contributions to the international development

14.00 PM session opening
• Frane Maroevic, Director, Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media

14.15 Journalist, correspondent (Moscow), Sveriges Radio, Maria Persson Löfgren (S)

14.45 Media development organizations in the Nordic countries has increasingly contributed to media freedom globally. How should they continue?
• Moderator: Albana Shala (NL), Chair of the UNESCO International Programme
for the Development of Communication presents her view on how the Nordic countries could and should improve their global partnership.
• Director of International Media Support, Jesper Højberg (DK)
• International director, Fojo Media Institute, Johan Romare (S)
• Professor, Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus, Kristin Skare Orgeret (N)
• Director of Vikes, Juha Rekola (FIN)

15.30 Open space debate
Meet of your choice the four Nordic experts (above). Discuss, propose ideas, and be a part of the development of the international support of media freedom. Proposals will be considered and added to the recommendations from the conference.

16.15 Plenum and Conclusions
Panelists present their results from the open space debate.
The conference presents its conclusive statement including recommendations for future work and the continuation of elements from the conference.

16.45 Closing remarks
• Minister of Culture Bertel Haarder (DK)