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Friday, 05 June 2009

IPI Congress Set to Open in Helsinki

Press freedom discussions and the presentation of the Free Media Pioneer Awards among the highlights of the annual event. 

Novaya Gazeta Editor-in-Chief Dmitry Muratov. The Novaya Gazeta is the recipient of the IPI Pioneer Award 2009. Photo: EPA

More than 250 editors, media executives and leading journalists will gather in Helsinki from 6 to 9 June for the International Press Institute’s World Congress and 58th General Assembly.

An annual event, the IPI Congress features discussions on global issues that shape press freedom and the media. This year, participants will discuss press freedom in Russia, the financial crisis, climate change and the changing face of online journalism, as well as other topics.

IPI will also award its Free Media Pioneer Award to the Moscow-based Novaya Gazeta newspaper.

“Despite the media challenges we face this year, this IPI Congress is a reminder of not only those challenges but also the struggle for press freedom,” said David Dadge, director of IPI. “In many parts of the world, journalists are still not free to do their jobs without fear of censorship or reprisal”.

The Congress will feature speakers such as Finnish President Tarja Halonen; Peter Bergen, a terrorism analyst and author; Yuen-Ying Chan, director of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong; and Jorma Ollila, chairman of Nokia and  Royal Dutch Shell; and Anatoly Adamishin, former deputy foreign minister of the Soviet Union.

During the Congress, IPI will present its 14th Free Media Pioneer Award to the Novaya Gazeta, a newspaper that has defied Kremlin efforts to rein in independent media. Its editor, Dmitry Muratov, is scheduled to accept the award. Also expected at the Congress is Russian financier Alexander Lebedev, who along with former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is a part-owner of the Gazeta.

The Congress will feature a special presentation of the yet-to-be-released Australian film Balibo, about the events surrounding the slaying of five journalists by Indonesian soldiers in East Timor in 1975.

In advance of the Congress, IPI re-launched its website. The site has been extensively redesigned to create a valuable resource for IPI members, as well as journalists and researchers seeking information on global press freedom challenges. It also features the FreeMedia Blog, which will offer a worldwide forum for press freedom discussions.

For more information on the Congress, including the programme and updates on panel discussions, visit the World Congress site.

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