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IPI World Congress spotlights the freedom of press

IPI World Congress spotlights the freedom of press

The 2011 International Press Institute World Congress, featuring discussions on press freedom, citizen journalism and social media revolutions, opened in Taipei Sept. 25.

This is the second time Taiwan has hosted the meeting, the first being in 1999.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said at the opening ceremony: "Since its founding, the IPI has been a staunch champion of press freedom. In addition to promoting democracy around the world, it has fought tirelessly to defend the rights and improve the working conditions of news media professionals."

Philip Yang, minister of the Government Information Office added, "Media that are free to report the truth are the very lifeblood of democracy. They are the essential eyes and ears for people everywhere in the world."

According to IPI Chairman Carl-Eugen Eberle, "Freedom of press, freedom of opinion and freedom of expression are the core values for societies that want to enable their citizens to take proper and well informed decisions for their own life and for the benefit of the society.

"Fighting for press freedom is not a dead end but part of the solution stabilizing societies," he stressed.

Eberle said Taiwan's democracy has progressed greatly over the past 12 years, setting an example of how economic development, democracy and press freedom are not in conflict with each other.

IPI Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said, "The press in Taiwan is very vibrant, probably among the freest in Asia, particularly in Southeast Asia."

In a ceremony honoring contributions to journalistic independence, Daniel Pearl, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who was brutally killed in Pakistan in 2002 while chasing a story on shoe bomber Richard Reid, and Raymond Louwe, a South African editor and publisher long devoted to press freedom and journalists' rights, were named winners of the IPI World Press Freedom Hero Award.

The Japanese newspaper Ishinomaki Hibi Shimbun received the IPI Special Citation Award for publishing in handwritten form after the major earthquake that struck Japan March 11 damaged its printing machines.

Tunisia's online broadcaster and news website Radio Kalima was given the IPI Free Media Pioneer Award 2011 for its role in delivering news the Zine El Abidine Ben Ali administration "didn't want you [the world] to hear" during the Jasmine revolution, according to McKenzie.

The 2011 IPI World Congress will conclude Sept. 27.

ENDS

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