Amman, 29 October 2017 – On 25 October, Mr. Guy Berger, UNESCO’s Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development, gave a lecture on world trends in freedom of expression to approximately 120 students at Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan.
Mr. Berger spoke about the recent trends as documented in the UNESCO publication, “World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development”. The full report in the series will be available in November 2017. “We hope that this report will be useful to students such as yourselves who are going to become professional communicators so that you can understand a bit more about how to do your work in a changing world,” said Mr. Berger during the lecture.
According to the World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development report, “across the world, journalists are under fire and the profession is facing greater challenges than ever before. Despite the fact that more individuals have more access to content than ever before, the combination of political polarization, misogyny, and technological change have facilitated the rapid spread of hate speech, and unverified false information, often leading to disproportionate restrictions on freedom of expression.”
In the face of such challenges, the report offers a critical analysis of new trends in media freedom, pluralism, independence and the safety of journalists. With a special focus on gender equality in the media, the report provides a global perspective that serves as an essential resource for UNESCO Member States, international organizations, civil society groups, academia and individuals seeking to understand the changing global media landscape.
Mr. Berger’s presentation focused on media freedom issues, privacy, the issue of regulation, and impunity of crimes against journalists. He gifted several UNESCO publications to the University’s library, including UNESCO’s report on Countering Online Hate Speech, which draws on the Rabat Plan of Action on the prohibition of advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.
“As Jordanians you should feel very proud that in your country, you are stable in a region of turmoil, and that you have a vibrant media sector,” he noted, speaking about the situation in Jordan. Following the presentation, students engaged with Mr. Berger in a Q&A session, where they asked questions about Jordan’s record on media freedom, what regulation could mean for freedom of expression, and the role of online censorship and the Rabat principles on hate speech. Dr. Khalaf Tahat, vice dean of the Mass Communication Faculty at Yarmouk University, moderated the Q&A discussion, and thanked Mr. Berger for the engaging presentation.
The lecture was organized as part of the EU funded and UNESCO implemented “Support to Media in Jordan” project. The Support to Media in Jordan (STMJO) project aims to help Jordan’s efforts in advancing the Jordanian media to further increase its freedom, independence and professionalism. The four-year project (2014 – 2018) is generously funded by the European Union and implemented by the UNESCO Amman office in close collaboration with the Ministry of State for Media Affairs and the media community in Jordan.