Broad coalition endorses the No Free Press, No Freedom declaration of principles

MONTREAL, April 4, 2017 /CNW/ - One month ahead of World Press Freedom Day, a broad coalition has released a declaration of principle for the No Free Press, No Freedom campaign.

Initiated by the Association des Journalistes Indépendants du Québec (AJIQ) and the Fédération Nationale des Communications (FNC) in response to the crisis facing the news industry, which is undermining the foundations of journalism, threatening pluralism of information, and jeopardizing citizens' right to quality information of public interest, the campaign aims to lay the groundwork for a broad mobilization to safeguard public interest journalism and news media.

"We need a strong and independent press to counterbalance the false narratives of fake news and to hold those in power accountable to the public," said Pascale St-Onge, president of Fédération nationale des communications.

"Freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and the broader civil liberties enshrined in the Charter, are under threat. Here in Canada, journalists are being arrested, charged and spied on for reporting on issues of public interest. We need to push back now and we need to push back hard against these troubling trends," said Canadian Journalists for Free Expression Executive Director, Tom Hennefer.

"From police surveillance of journalists to widespread dissemination of fake news, through social media, by politically or economically motivated propagandists, the state of the press in our democracies is at best worrisome. We launched this campaign so that everyone who believes in a free press can unite and take action before it's too late," Simon Van Vliet, president of AJIQ, explained. 

Launched just as the Chamberland Commission on protecting the confidentiality of journalistic sources begins, the declaration not only directly echoes recent events in Quebec, but touches on broader issues at the national and international level.

Signed by AJIQ, the Centre for Free Expression – Ryerson University, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, the Canadian Media Guild, CWA Canada – The Media Union, FNC, Ligue des Droits et Libertés and PEN Canada, the declaration calls for:

  1. Protecting journalistic sources from police surveillance and strengthening freedom of the press against censorship and repression in any form;
  2. Promoting the public's right to know through reinforced access to information mechanisms for both journalists and the public;
  3. Debating regulatory and tax frameworks designed to ensure the quality, independence and integrity of information produced and disseminated by traditional news media and new media companies;
  4. Developing media education programs fostering a critical understanding of news production and dissemination processes.

SOURCE PEN Canada

For further information: Simon Van Vliet, président, AJIQ, ajiq@simonvanvliet.info, 514-750-3903; James L. Turk, Director, Centre for Free Expression, Jim@jameslturk.com, 613-277-0488; Tom Hennefer, executive director, CJFE, thenheffer@cjfe.org, 647-992-4630; Pascale St-Onge, présidente, Fédération nationale des communications, Pascale.St-Onge@fnc.quebec, 514-598-2335; Amy Smith, Communication and Events, PEN Canada, asmith@pencanada.ca, 416 703 8448 #2223

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