ASSOCIATION OF EUROPEAN JOURNALISTS

UNITED KINGDOM SECTION

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Chairman's report to the 2015 Annual General Meeting

We maintained exceptionally high attendance at AEJ Lunchtime meetings in 2015, helped by successfully pinning down prominent speakers from outside the UK, including important European figures like David McAllister and Eugenio Ambrosi. I would like to remind members again that all AEJ activities are carried out on a voluntary and unpaid basis, in a spirit of friendly collaboration for the benefit of all concerned; and your support is much appreciated.

We are thankful as always to be able to use Europe House as a cost-free venue for our regular lunchtime meetings. However, the meeting spaces are increasingly booked up far in advance by other organisations, obliging the AEJ to pick meeting dates a long way ahead, which gives us less flexibility than we had in the past. I am very happy that David Lennon has agreed to continue as Events Director, helping the Chairman and Secretary with the essential task of attracting guest speakers; Peter Norman is also now helping with those efforts. Members are welcome to suggest names (with contacts) of prospective speakers, by e-mail to myself wh@williamhorsley.com and David Lennon on pdlennon@gmail.com.

I am hopeful that our informal journalism support scheme, originally proposed by Frank Gray, will get a new lease of life through a link with City University London’s Journalism Department. The scheme foresees a couple of students attending our lunch meetings as guests, providing them with practical experience of a journalists’ event and a chance to network and learn from their “seniors”.

Celia Hampton has kept the AEJ UK website in excellent condition with up-to-date information on AEJ meetings, other events of interest, international AEJ news and topical blogs and briefings written by members.  We are very pleased that David Barker has agreed to back up Celia’s important work to make the website a fine showcase for all that we do.

 

 

The AEJ’s international dimension: The AEJ was a prime mover in the start-up in April 2015 of the Council of Europe’s online monitoring of attacks on journalists and press freedom, the Platform for the Safety of Journalists and Protection of Journalism. This project is a collaboration among the AEJ, Article 19, Committee to Protect Journalists, EFJ/IFJ, Index on Censorship, International Press Institute and Reporters Without Borders. After nine months, more than 100 alerts have been published and sent officially by the Council of Europe for the member states concerned to respond, with the aim of prompting follow-up actions by the government to remedy violations and to investigate cases of violence or abuse against journalists in their work. The Platform is at http://www.coe.int/en/web/media-freedom.

As well as taking part in the Platform initiative, we have been active in countering assaults on press freedom, e.g. by writing to ministers of the new Polish government urging it to abandon moves to take direct control of public broadcasting.

Five UK Section members participated in the annual AEJ Congress and General Assembly in Sibiu, Romania, in November. You may like to read the lively reports and blogs written from the Congress and published on the AEJ UK website.

Lieven Taille of the Belgian Section has taken over from Peter Kramer as AEJ Brussels Special Representative. Lieven has ambitions to organise more events around Europe, as well as in Brussels, aimed at enriching the value of AEJ membership. A new Bosnian Section of the AEJ is expected to come into being at the 2016 Congress (location undecided).

William Horsley, 28 January 2016