Monday, July 21, 2008 (All day)

An encouraging picture of demand for the principles of ICF and the response the ICF has made this year were expressed at our annual meeting in Caux. Twenty people took part in the Assembly and the suggestion is on the table that at next year’s Annual Assembly in Caux the ICF should again join forces with the conference on Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy (TIGE).

Founder President’s Report

In an upbeat letter from the absent Bill Porter, he declared that providentially he looks forward to being in shape to take in a major speaking engagement in Canada in October. As many of us know he has survived a critical operation on an aorta aneurysm. It seemed that in a visionary moment, while recovering from emergency surgery, he found himself at the Golden Gates waiting for his credential papers to be returned. The cryptic reply was, ‘Rejected. Return to base. Task uncompleted.’ 

President’s Report

Regretfully, Bernard Margueritte was also unable to attend due to the serious illness of his mother. He sent his annual report, which was presented by Andrew Stallybrass. In it he reminded us of the three aims of this past year’s work: 

1.      Developing new partnerships,

2.      Extending the outreach to the world

3.      Encouraging local chapters. 

His survey covered developments in Latin America, South Africa, Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, India, UK, Poland and France.   Bernard reported two long conversations in Gotebourg with Roger Parkinson and additionally with Henri Pigeat, French media expert. While their criticisms of the ICF were positive in character they wanted to explore new ways. One suggestion concerned the name. ‘ICF sounds old-fashion and unattractive’. Second, find our proper niche in the media landscape on a few key issues, like reminding journalists, ‘why’ they are doing their job and what is their mission. Third, work in a more organic way with newspaper’s ombudsman and Press Councils. Eric Newton, (Knight Foundation) said that our emphasis on the role of the media to help ‘understand the other’ on an international basis, thereby playing a vital role in preventing conflicts in the world, is remarkable and something which Knight could be interested in supporting – financially. 

In May this year IofC International and the Swiss Press agency Infosud held a training seminar for journalists in Côte d'Ivoire on the theme "Journalism of Reconciliation and Peace", and our President has been invited to take part in the following session this autumn. 

Following two earlier successful forums in Le Touquet it seems that the new Mayor is interested in a proposal to have a further larger international forum next year in his city. M Christian Boisredon of Reporters d’Espoire has indicated to Bernard his readiness to partner with ICF in a number of ways. 

The executive committee is committed to sifting through the many opportunities proposed in the President’s report to clarify those areas where practical steps must be taken. 

Poland

A Forum to launch further interest in the ICF in Poland is now planned for the beginning of November in Lodz for which finance is coming from the city and from the film director Zanussi who attended Caux two year’s back. 

United Kingdom

War reporting – where does a journalist’s duty lie? was the title of a Forum held in London in April which brought together Martin Bell, famed for his war reporting in the Bosnian war, Yvonne Ridley, a reporter captured and later released by the Taliban, and veteran Journalist Philip Knightley. The event was chaired by Magnus Linklater.  

A ‘pilot’ visiting seminar group spent a day with students at the Media Department of Lincoln University in February. On this occasion, again under the leadership of Linklater, the panel included Natasha Skvortsova, National Secretary, Russian Union of Journalists, Rafael Marques, celebrated Angolan journalist and human rights campaigner, and Geoffrey Goodman, founder of the British Journalism Review. Professor Richard Keeble, who organised the event, received unanimous enthusiasm from the students who listened spellbound to honest accounts of the mistakes and achievements of these veteran journalists. 

Russia and USA

We received first hand evaluations from colleagues from Russia, and America on media status in their countries.   Gilbert Klein, independent media consultant, said that commercial pressures in the States are forcing big staff reductions across America, with consequent loss of quality journalism in favour of cheaper sources of information. According to Yuri Reshetnikov, Voice of Russia, government control in the major TV outlets is total, while smaller (cable) TV stations enjoy a certain degree of editorial freedom. Echo of Moscow is maintaining a remarkable degree of independence. In his own station, there is a relative degree of freedom of expression with the exception of criticism of government officials, which is not expected from a government-run station. Yuri has filed several stories of interviews with participants at the conference. 

New Media

Bela Hatvany wanted the ICF to be actively conscious of the tidal wave of the new media, which is making the Internet a vast force across the world. 

Hugh Nowell