Solidarity with field producers in Ukraine and worldwide
APRIL SAW the return of the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy. Among its events was a panel discussion hosted by the Thompson Foundation on the subject of "Russia's invasion of Ukraine: how local journalists are telling the story for their communities and the world." In the course of the discussion, members and partners of the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) launched what has become the Perugia Declaration for Ukraine.
The Declaration goes beyond the borders of Ukraine, though, and addresses in particular the plight of field producers in conflict zones worldwide. These are the media workers who used to known by the now-outmoded term "fixers".
The full text is here. The Declaration opens by noting how "Russia's invasion of Ukraine has underlined once again the essential role of independent, ethical journalism in assisting citizens to make life of death decisions, informing the world, and holding the powerful to account."
It refers to "disinformation and propaganda" as well as "the targeting, torturing and killing of journalists" and declares that "the greater the threat to Ukrainian journalists' lives, livelihoods and ability to do their jobs, the greater will be our efforts to support them."
The Declaration describes these developments as "a window of opportunity for journalism", with an "often sceptical public are recognising the bravery, commitment and professionalism of journalists". Meanwhile, tech giants may be waking up to the need to give "due prominence" to independent journalism on their platforms.
Among the pledges in the Declaration is a commitment to acknowledge that many conflicts have not received the same united, sustained response that the war in Ukraine has, and that this should change.
Crucially, the document affirms that "field producers are not 'fixers'. Their language skills, cultural and regional understanding and strong networks of contacts are crucial to international reporting and deserve the same rights, respect, support, social security and credit as all journalists covering conflicts."
Another pledge is to "commit to intensifying our efforts to support journalists in conflict zones, in exile and facing hardships everywhere," specifically including journalists forced to flee Russia and Belarus.
There is also a pledge to provide protective kit to Ukrainian journalists, to draw attention to the "insecurity of Ukrainian field producers", and to provide them with "proper pay" and insurance.
The Declaration makes specific calls on the international media, the funders of journalism, the EU, national states, tech companies and advertisers.
It's well worth taking the trouble to read the Declaration in full - it takes only a few minutes. Individuals and organisations can add their name to it via a link at the end. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), of which the NUJ is part, is one of over 200 organisations to have signed up already.