“We need powerful and independent media. What’s uncomfortable to autocrats and dictators is strong media. What we see in Russia is an example of how far it can go.” – Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency in the European Commission
This quote from Věra Jourová perfectly sums up the tone of 01 June, the day the Vice President of the European Commission visited the ECPMF offices in Leipzig. Throughout the day, the Vice President spoke with ECPMF staffers, journalists-in-residence, and representatives from the Media Foundation of Leipzig and the Free State of Saxony about the threats facing media freedom in Europe; with Russia’s war in Ukraine serving as an ever-present anchor point.
Vice President Jourová’s visit to the ECPMF office was part of a trip to Leipzig to discuss media freedom, pluralism, and the safety of journalists; in particular in the context of Russia’s war in Ukraine, as well as the preparation of the European Media Freedom Act. Following her opening remarks, the Vice President heard from two ECPMF Journalists-in-Residence from Ukraine, Maria Grinevich and Maria Tsiptsiura. In a discussion moderated by Vice Chair of ECPMF, Rebecca Harms, the two journalists recalled their experiences of working as journalists at the beginning of the war:
“Journalists in Ukraine now do incredible work. Thanks to them we know about Bucha and Mariupol – we know about Russian crimes in Ukraine. They tell the truth, and we know that Russia wishes to hide these truths. The price for this truth is often our lives.” –
Maria Tsiptsiura, Ukrainian Journalist-in-Residence
After responding with an overview of the European Commission’s plans to offer a lifeline to Ukrainian journalists and media outlets through a €15 million support package, Vice President Jourová spoke to the two journalists directly.
As well as these discussions, the day included introductory remarks from Dr. Harald Langenfeld, Chair of the Media Foundation Leipzig. Dr. Langenfeld emphasised the value of media freedom, and the importance of media knowledge and literacy:
“How can one be reliably informed about what is happening in the world? In particular young people are exposed to a mass of false reports on platform media. Anyone who wants to form his/her opinion on political discourse needs media knowledge and skills.” – Dr. Harald Langenfeld, Chair of the Media Foundation Leipzig
Following Dr. Langenfeld’s introduction, Conrad Clemens, State Secretary of the Free State of Saxony addressed the room. In his remarks, Mr. Clemens spoke specifically about journalists under attack, referencing the murders of Daphne Caruana Galizia and Ján Kuciak:
“The Free State of Saxony is a long-time partner of ECPMF – your work is more important than ever. We see media freedom under attack; we know the cases in Malta, Slovakia, even in Germany. We cannot mention the name of Daphne Caruana Galizia often enough.” – Conrad Clemens, State Secretary, Free State of Saxony
Participants also heard from ECPMF’s Managing Director, Dr. Lutz Kinkel, about the organisation’s role and aims; which are, simply put:
“ECPMF’s only purpose is to protect and defend media freedom. That’s all that we do 24/7.” – Dr. Lutz Kinkel, Managing Director of ECPMF
A more detailed overview of the day’s events was published in Issue #4 of the ECPMF Spotlight Newsletter, which you can find here.