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II SEEMF - Sofia, 5-6 November 2008
“Media and Democracy in South East Europe: Professional Standards and Education of Journalists”

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Welcome speech by the Prime Minister of Bulgaria H.E. Sergei Stanishev

Welcome reception was organised in cooperation with Raiffeisen Bank - Raiffeisen International Bank-Holding AG (part of the RZB Group)

SEEMO / IPI PRESS Release:  WAZ Media Group, Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation (KAS) and the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) invite you to the 2nd South East Europe Media Forum  Themes in Sofia: Professional Standards and the Training of Journalists

ESSEN / SOFIA / VIENNA, 3 November 2008. The Essen-based WAZ Media Group, the South East Europe Media Programme of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation (KAS) and the Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), invite you to the 2nd South East Europe Media Forum. Approximately 200 publishers, heads of publishing companies, editors-in-chief and leading journalists from South East Europe will meet on Wednesday and Thursday (5-6 November 2008) in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. The focal point of this forum is: "Media and Democracy in South East Europe: Professional Standards and Education of Journalists."

Sergei Stanishev, the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, will be an opening speaker of the 2nd Media Forum. Speakers at the Wednesday evening round table discussion dealing with "Media and Democracy" include Prime Minister Stanishev, Christian Nienhaus, Head of the WAZ Media Group, Venelina Gocheva, editor-in-chief of the Bulgarian daily newspaper 24 Hours, and Johann P. Fritz, Director Emeritus, Austrian Chapter of IPI, Vienna. Further panels will discuss the training/education of journalists at universities and other institutions of learning. Other topics on the agenda are professional standards and independent and dependable media sources.

From the very beginning of the Media Forum, the organisers have emphasised the fact that only journalists with a good educational background/training are in a position to fight against economic pressure and political influences in the countries of South East Europe. Independent and high-quality press coverage is vital to strengthening democracy and independent media should support one another when it comes to reacting to outside pressure. 

The WAZ Media Group and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) will award the "WAZ-IFJ-Award for Courageous Journalism" for reporting that has withstood influences and attempts at intimidation. The "Courage Prize' is being introduced by the WAZ-Group and IFJ for the first time this year, and it will be presented in Sofia.

The 1st Media Forum of the WAZ Media Group, Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation (KAS) und South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) took place last year in the Croatian capital of Zagreb and was supported by 150 participants from South East Europe concerned with maintaining standards of quality journalism.

ESSEN / SOFIA, 7 November 2008. The 2nd South East Europe Media Forum, ended on Thursday, 6th November, discussed professional standards and education of journalists. The closing remarks of Dr. Srgjan Kerim, special advisor for political affairs of the Management of the WAZ Media Group and General Manager of Mediaprint Macedonia, summarize this successful forum. These are his closing remarks in original terms:

Dear Colleagues,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me, first and foremost to thank all participants for contributing in this successful forum.

I’m sure we all agree that we have had a rich and engaging debate involving your active participation. The high standing of the participants and the quality and vitality of the debates again prove that it is useful and necessary to bring together representatives from the media, academics, university professors and educators and representatives of international organizations from the Region and outside, to exchange views and ideas about the challenges in education and further education of journalists in the countries of Southeastern Europe and the ways in which we can better work together, meaning media industry, universities and media institutions in trying to meet the challenges that we all face. Allow me, here to express my special thanks to Mr. Aidan White from the International Federation of Journalists, Mr. Mogens Schmidt from UNESCO, Mr. David Dadge from the International Press Institute for their contribution in this Forum.

The discussions have confirmed that the issue of quality of journalistic education inside and outside universities is acquiring greater importance. The views and concerns presented today, have only confirmed the urgent need to address this important issue and above all finding adequate solutions.

The experience of Sheffield University, as presented by Professor Harrison and Ms Kinsey, breaching the gap between a newsroom and a classroom is a very good example for successful co-operation of educators with different backgrounds. The experience of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung has also given us an insight into the different possibilities of journalistic education and training.

We can all agree that the active participation of the media industry is more than necessary. This has been said repeatedly during the discussions. The WAZ Media Group has recognized this pressing need and has started to explore the possibilities of the establishment of an adequate program for education and training of journalists in Southeastern Europe. I thank Mr Gasic for presentation of the model, which, as he already announced, has started in Macedonia.

Before closing the meeting, I would like to convey a special vote of thanks to the dedicated members of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, SEEMO, the Media Development Center in Sofia and of course the “Vesnikarska Grupa Bulgaria”, who have made all of this possible.

I thank you!

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