The International Press Institute is a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and news agencies in over 100 nations. IPI was founded in New York in 1950 by an international group of editors from 15 countries. Today, the IPI is the world's leading organization for the defense of press freedom with members in over 110 countries. What began as a small enterprise in the early 1950's has expanded to become an ongoing dialogue between journalists throughout the world.
Even though the size of the organisation has changed, its philosophy remains the same: that freedom of expression is the right that protects all other rights and that this freedom needs to be promoted and defended.
IPI's membership is made up of editors and media executives working for some of the world's most respected media outlets. IPI has also established a new membership category: "IPI Leading Journalists" which is open to heads of media departments, bureau chiefs, correspondents and others.
Moreover, in several countries IPI members have established National Committees that support IPI in its work to improve the situation for the media. The reputation and the dedication of IPI's members are the main reasons behind the success of the organisation.
Being the world's oldest global press freedom organisation, the IPI community provides its members with an invaluable network of media contacts throughout the world. This set of contacts has proven to be of great professional benefit to IPI's members.
Why is Press Freedom so Important?
In many countries in the world, journalists are persecuted for critical reporting. Many are murdered; others are beaten, imprisoned, kidnapped, tortured and intimidated.
The courage and commitment that journalists display when bringing the news to their audiences is often astounding. Journalists deserve our support because they defend our freedom.
On many occasions, these deplorable acts are carried out by organised criminals, paramilitary groups and other elements in society who do not want to see their activities exposed. Unfortunately, in many countries, such tactics of intimidation are also employed by the authorities.
Public officials often go to extreme lengths to suppress information that portrays them in a bad light. They use censorship - in all its forms - to conceal corruption and mismanagement from the public eye.
Citizens have a fundamental right to be fully informed on the performance of their representatives and only a free press can guarantee that the truth is freely disseminated.
What IPI Does to Defend and Promote Press Freedom
IPI uses several instruments in its work to defend and promote press freedom. First and foremost, IPI is ready to intervene wherever press freedom is threatened.
These threats are often brought to IPI's attention by its members, many of whom experience such difficulties first-hand while carrying out their profession. The IPI secretariat also undertakes constant monitoring of media activities; IPI has a large number of mechanisms at its disposal to detect threats to press freedom around the world.
Written protests are often the first response to press freedom violations. By protesting, IPI is seeking to bring the plight of journalists to the attention of the international community.
The use of protests forces repressive regimes to recognise that their actions will not be tolerated by the democratic world.
By making its presence felt IPI is expressing solidarity with the media in question and emphasising that they do not stand alone.
In order to react swiftly to press freedom violations, IPI has set up the IPI Press Freedom Fund. Among other things, this fund provides IPI with the necessary means to undertake missions to countries where press freedom is under threat.
These missions usually comprise a wide range of activities, including: providing legal representation and support in court cases, appeals to governments and other official institutions, and lobbying embassies with the aim of applying direct pressure on governments which violate press freedom.
Since IPI enjoys consultative status with the UN, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and other intergovernmental organisations, it also issues letters of appeal to these bodies.
Every year IPI organises its World Congress in conjunction with the annual IPI General Assembly. These conferences bring together top media representatives, politicians and academic personalities from all over the world and have proved to be very successful. For many members this event is the highlight of their professional year.
Organised each year in a different country, journalists come to these meetings to tell their stories and share their experiences.
The World Congress also provides IPI's members with an invaluable opportunity to form new professional contacts with colleagues from around the world.
In addition to these activities, IPI undertakes extensive research on issues relevant to the media and circulates several publications on press freedom. IPI regularly scrutinises new media laws and provides governments with recommendations on how to bring their legislation in line with internationally accepted standards on freedom of expression.
Each year IPI publishes an authoritative report on media violations around the world: The World Press Freedom Review. All members receive the annual IPI Congress Report and the IPI Global Journalist, the organisation's quarterly magazine that details the latest developments in the media world. In addition, special publications are issued such as the 50 World Press Freedom Heroes and the Kosovo News and Propaganda War.
For more information: IPI Spiegelgasse 2 A-1010 Vienna, Austria Tel: + 43 1 512 90 11 Fax: + 43 1 512 90 14 E-mail: email@example.com