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Follow-Up to the National Media Talk: Media Freedom vs Warfare

November 10 – Natalia Ishchenko of The Day newspaper filed a second story about media freedom from the Internews National Media Talk conference earlier this month. This article, “Freedom of Speech at a Time of War: An Oxymoron or a Rule With Exceptions?,” covered the conference’s media freedom recommendations developed by international and Ukrainian observers and experts.

Ishchenko praised the National Media Talk organizers for assembling a diverse group of media scholars, observers, and experts to discuss press freedom and journalism standards. The National Media Talk agenda offered time for participants to conduct discussions on subjects ranging from national security to the role of journalists in a 21st-century hybrid war.

“If earlier the media sector focused on mainstream abstract messages about ‘neutrality,’ ‘balance,’ ‘another point of view,’ and protection of ‘Russian colleagues’ because ‘two countries – one profession,’ today one can hear rather differing statements made during these high-scale media meetings,” Ishchenko asserted in the article.

“Finally, the reality we live in after Crimea’s annexation and the anti-terrorist operation in … Ukraine’s east that a few of us were fully aware of is opening up to many others within the media sector community and to international donors dealing with media development in Ukraine,” she wrote.

Ishchenko concluded by contrasting media reporting conditions in other parts of Europe and North America. “Modern international experience varies in approaches used to finding a compromise between how to guarantee freedom of media and protect state security interests at a time of war; however, more and more experts are saying that the journalistic standards at work in peaceful Old Europe and North American countries cannot be automatically applied to Ukraine, which has been fighting with Russian aggression for over four years.”

Speaking at that National Media Talk session in early November on national security and media freedom, American journalist and media lawyer Mary Mycio said it is important to remember the war being waged against Ukraine when applying traditional rules and approaches that work in other democratic countries.

 “When we take the journalistic standards working in a country without an armed conflict as a basis, these standards will not operate the same in a country at war,” Mycio said. “These standards will also differ from an aggressor country and a country where the war is happening on its own territory.”

A group of media lawyers participating in the National Media Talk sessions earlier this month also presented recommendations for media in time of war. One of its assertions was that during an international armed conflict, the subjects of an aggressor country are not in a position to exercise the right to freedom of speech on the territory of the country that suffers from aggression.

More in The Day newspaper in Ukrainian.

Photos by Sergiy Savchenko.