Perugia Declaration for Ukraine: Call for increased support of independent media and journalists in Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has underlined once again the essential role of independent, ethical journalism in assisting citizens to make life-or-death decisions, informing the world, and holding the powerful to account.

As a powerful antidote to the disinformation and propaganda that characterise hybrid warfare, and as a pillar of democracy upon which other freedoms and rights depend, journalism in Ukraine is undergoing a terrible assault.

The targeting, torturing, and killing of journalists is abhorrent and must be stopped. Those responsible must be held accountable and brought to justice under national and international law. Vicious online attacks against news organisations and individual journalists must also cease. We condemn Russia’s attacks on press freedom and freedom of expression in Ukraine in the strongest possible terms.

The safety and security of all journalists to report freely are essential to ensure that the world understands the reality and facts of the ongoing war, including the humanitarian consequences.

We stand in solidarity with all journalists and independent media covering Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

The greater the threat to Ukrainian journalists’ lives, livelihoods, and ability to do their jobs, the greater will be our efforts to support them. Funding, protective gear, equipment, housing, training, office space in foreign cities, and psychosocial support – we will do everything we can to support our Ukrainian colleagues’ ability to continue reporting and serving the urgent needs of their audiences.

A window of opportunity for journalism and journalists everywhere

In countries with access to independent sources of news, an often sceptical public are recognising the bravery, commitment and professionalism of journalists and media outlets, both Ukrainian and international. Even governments with hostile dispositions to free, independent media are being forced to acknowledge the vital role journalism plays in ensuring that the world sees the invasion of Ukraine for what it is. Tech companies too are waking up to the fact that not all information is equal, and that there is a moral imperative to give due prominence to professional, independent, public interest journalism.

This nascent, new-found and rekindled recognition of journalism’s value among the public and policy makers is fragile. Ukrainian reporters and international journalists reporting from Ukraine have earned a window of opportunity. The greatest leaps of progress are often made in times of crisis. We, collectively, cannot afford to squander it.

For the sake of the immediate future and safety of our Ukrainian colleagues, and the long term viability of independent, public interest journalism everywhere, this is a moment that we all need to rise to.

For the benefit of media and journalists everywhere, we:

  • Insist that states and armed groups must release all imprisoned and kidnapped journalists, including those detained or sentenced under the guise of prohibiting defamation or countering terrorism;
  • Acknowledge that many conflicts and crises have at times not received the united, rapid and sustained response that our collective conscience demands;
  • Affirm that field producers are journalists not “fixers” – their language skills, cultural and regional understanding and strong networks of contacts are crucial to international reporting and deserve the same rights, respect, support, social security and credit as all journalists covering conflicts.
  • Commit to intensifying our efforts to support journalists in conflict zones, in exile, and facing hardship everywhere, including independent media/journalists from Belarus and Russia who have been forced to flee their countries;
  • Russia’s crackdown on dissent; its attacks against press freedom; its intimidation of independent journalism – these actions are forcing journalists who remain committed to truth-telling and free speech into silence or exile. Russian people are being denied access to the truth.

To international media and journalists, we ask that you:

  • Where legally permitted, provide surplus personal protective equipment to organisations able to transport this to Ukraine;
  • Draw attention to the social insecurity of Ukrainian field producers and translators’ who help foreign media by providing them with proper pay, insurance and additional safety guarantees;
  • Wherever possible make safety training available to Ukrainian journalists and to all journalists, including freelancers reporting from Ukraine, and “show the same concern for the welfare and safety of freelancers, local journalists and media workers as they do for their staff” including providing the same protective equipment to Ukrainian colleagues as to international reporters;
  • Open your doors to displaced journalists and newsrooms. Give them somewhere to work from. Hire them if you can afford to;
  • Listen to the calls of Ukrainian colleagues to use appropriate and accurate language when reporting on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, consistent with the ethical standards of independent journalism;

To private and public donors and funders of professional journalism, we ask that you:

  • Urgently increase and provide flexible financial support to media that produce independent, ethical journalism, enabling them to hire or keep paying reporters, editors, and producers who are reporting on the Russian invasion of Ukraine;
  • When you fund journalism, remember, journalism is a public good. It is an end in itself, a pillar of democracy upon which many other freedoms and rights depend. Do not undermine its independence by seeking to instrumentalise it as a tool of strategic communication or as a means to achieve other development objectives. Treat it with the respect it deserves and follow the well-established best practices and guidance on effective support to journalism;
  • Simplify the process of applying for funding in emergencies: Application forms must be in local languages and should not require large amounts of internet data by requiring numerous files to be uploaded;
  • Ensure that media and journalism are included in all aid coordination mechanisms;
  • Provide support not just for newsrooms, but individual journalists and freelancers from Ukraine, as well as via mechanisms of fellowships or content production projects;
  • Consider providing not only financial support, but also methodological and technical support. This can be the transfer of equipment for affected editors, training or publication of methodological materials.

To the EU, EU member states, members of the Media Freedom Coalition and all states that care about the right to freedom of expression and access to information, we ask you to:

  • Provide emergency visas and safe havens for Ukrainian journalists, as well as an independent journalists from Belarus and Russia, to re-establish their bases of operations and continue reporting;
  • Condemn and push back against the trend of criminalising journalism, a hallmark of creeping authoritarianism in many parts of the world. Journalism is not a crime;
  • Use all multilateral fora to defend the rights of journalists and advance their protection as civilians under international humanitarian law, particularly in the context of Russia’s war on Ukraine;
  • Contribute to all efforts to investigate and bring to justice cases of journalists targeted in this war.

To technology, telecoms, internet intermediaries and advertisers, we ask you to:

  • Work with the media and journalism community to identify, protect and uplift independent, ethical journalism, fact-checking, and media literacy efforts;
  • Prevent automated takedowns of journalistic content documenting evidence of international crimes of aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious human rights violations. These need to be available for journalists, fact-checkers, investigators and other stakeholders to effectively bring perpetrators to account and end impunity. Strengthen transparency and notice procedures, expedite appeal and remedy;
  • Reverse commercial incentives – both through algorithms and content moderation policies – that discriminate against public-interest journalism’s ability to reach audiences and monetise high-quality content;
  • Work with advertisers to stop the use of blacklist technology to block ads from appearing next to journalism and news media stories that mention conflicts like Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic and other critical health and social issues;
  • Deliver internet accessibility to all: prioritise maintaining internet accessibility and connectivity, and promote the right to access information.

We continue to stand in solidarity with all journalists around the world who work in areas of conflict or where freedom of expression is limited, to deliver trusted information in the public interest.

Signatories (organisations):

  1. ACOS Alliance
  2. Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC)
  3. ARTICLE 19
  4. Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (Abraji)
  5. BaleBengong (Indonesia)
  6. BBC Media Action
  7. BMTF
  8. Border Center for Journalists and Bloggers
  9. Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma
  10. Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF)
  11. CFI Medias
  12. Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ)
  13. Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD)
  14. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
  15. Community Media Solutions (CMS)
  16. Daraj Media
  17. Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma
  18. Detector Media, Ukraine
  19. Digital Content Next
  20. DW Akademie
  21. elDiario.es
  22. Ethical Journalism Network (EJN)
  23. European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  24. European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  25. European Journalism Centre (EJC)
  26. Fathm
  27. Finnish Foundation for Media and Development (Vikes)
  28. Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
  29. Fojo Media Institute
  30. Fundación Gabo
  31. Fondation Hirondelle
  32. Foundation “Souspilnist”, Ukraine
  33. Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
  34. Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN)
  35. IFEX
  36. Independent Journalism Center, Moldova
  37. Institute of Mass Information, Ukraine
  38. Institute for Regional Media and Information (IRMI, Ukraine)
  39. International Academy Serbia
  40. International Center for Journalists
  41. International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
  42. International Institute – International Media Center
  43. International Media Support (IMS)
  44. International Press Institute (IPI)
  45. Internews
  46. Internews Ukraine
  47. International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN)
  48. Jnomics Media
  49. Lviv Media Forum
  50. Maharat Foundation
  51. Magdalene
  52. Media Association for Peace (MAP)
  53. Media Development Investment Fund
  54. Media Diversity Institute (MDI)
  55. Media Impact Funders
  56. Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
  57. Mediastandard.ro
  58. Namibia Media Trust (NMT)
  59. National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU)
  60. New Narratives
  61. One World Media
  62. Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)
  63. Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
  64. Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf)
  65. Paper Trail Media
  66. Public Interest Journalism Lab
  67. Public Interest News Foundation
  68. Public Media Alliance (PMA)
  69. Pulitzer Center
  70. Radio Bullets
  71. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  72. RIA Media Corporation (Ukraine)
  73. Samir Kassir Foundation – SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom
  74. South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
  75. SyriaUntold
  76. THE CITY
  77. The Fix Media
  78. The Frontline Club (The Frontline Club Charitable Trust)
  79. The Ukrainians Media
  80. The VII Foundation
  81. The University of Georgia
  82. Thomson Foundation
  83. Transitions
  84. Will Media
  85. World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)
  86. World Editors Forum
  87. The University of Georgia
  88. Union of Journalists in Finland
  89. Independent Media Council

Add your organisation as a signature to the declaration using this very short sign up form.

Signatories (individuals: speakers, attendees and friends of the International Journalism Festival):

  1. Ahmad Quraishi, Executive Director, Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC)
  2. Angelina Fusco, Chair Dart Centre Europe
  3. Anna Masera, Vice Director, Giornale di Brescia
  4. Antonina Cherevko, Head of the Independent Media Council, Ukraine
  5. Anya Schiffrin, Senior Lecturer, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs
  6. Artem Liss, Flying Fox Media Ltd.
  7. Astrid Maier, Chief Editor, XING
  8. Baybars Orsak, Director, International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN)
  9. Bruce Shapiro, Executive Director, Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and Adjunct Professor of Journalism, Columbia Journalism School
  10. Caroline Nursey OBE, Chief Executive Officer, BBC Media Action
  11. Charlie Beckett, Director, Polis, LSE
  12. Cherilyn Ireton, Executive Director, World Editors Forum, WAN-IFRA
  13. Courtney Radsch, Tech and media policy expert
  14. Daniela Pinheiro, Columnist, UOL
  15. Dmytro Tuzov, host “Radio NV”
  16. Fergus Bell, CEO, Fathm
  17. Floriana Bulfon, Freelance Journalist
  18. Gypsy Guillén Kaiser, Advocacy and Communications Director, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
  19. Isabelle Roughol, Founder, Borderline
  20. Jakub Parusinski, Editor, The Fix Media
  21. Jeremy Druker, Executive Director and Editor in Chief, Transitions
  22. Jorge Luis Sierra, President, Border Center for Journalists and Bloggers
  23. Juleyka Lantigua, Founder/CEO, LWC Studios
  24. Lars Tallert, Head of Policy, Fojo Media Institute
  25. Leli Bibilashvili, Associate Dean, The University of Georgia
  26. Kathy English, Chair of Board, Canadian Journalism Foundation
  27. Kristian Porter, CEO, Public Media Alliance (PMA)
  28. Marina Walker Guevara, Pulitzer Center
  29. Mary Myers, independent researcher and media consultant
  30. Mae Azango, New Narratives and Front Page Africa
  31. Marcelo Rech, Journalist, President, Brazilian Newspaper Association (ANJI)
  32. Marius Dragomir, Director, Center for Media, Data & Society (CMDS)
  33. Melanie Walker, Executive Director, Media Development, WAN-IFRA
  34. Milica Pesic (MDI)
  35. Mira Milosevic, Executive Director, Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
  36. Natalia Antelava, Editor in Chief, Coda Media
  37. Nataliya Gumenyuk, CEO, Public Interest Journalism Lab
  38. Natia Kaladze, Dean, The University of Georgia
  39. Olga Myrovych, Head, Lviv Media Forum
  40. Owais Aslam Ali (Pakistan Press Foundation)
  41. Paul Nemitz, Principal Advisor, EU Commission
  42. Prue Clarke, Director, New Narratives
  43. Sergio Caringi, Director, Meeting with the International Press in Brazil
  44. Steve Buckley, Community Media Solutions (CMS)
  45. Taras Prokopyshyn, CEO and Co-Founder, The Ukrainians Media
  46. Tom Law, Head of Policy and Learning, GFMD
  47. Tom Trewinnard, COO, Fathm
  48. Victoria Bridges, Director, One World Media
  49. Vincent Peyrègne, Chief Executive Officer, WAN-IFRA
  50. Virginia Stagni, Head of Business Development, Financial Times
  51. Vusumuzi Sifile, Executive Director, Panos Institute Southern Africa
  52. Yazan Badran, Visiting professor, postdoctoral researcher, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
  53. Zakhar Protsiuk, The Fix Media
  54. Zoé Protsiuk, Director, The Fix Media
  55. Zoe Titus, Director, Namibia Media Trust

Add your name to the declaration using this very short sign up form.

Check out Perugia Declaration for Ukraine in Italian (Dichiarazione di Perugia per l’Ucraina), Ukrainian (Перуджійська декларація у підтримку України) and Russian (Перуджийская декларация в поддержку Украины).

Visit the International Journalism Festival’s YouTube channel here.

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