Media Freedom in the Commonwealth

Media Freedom in the Commonwealth
18 November 2020, 8.00am - 7.30pm

Media Freedom in the Commonwealth.

Wednesday 18 November, 8.00 am – 7.30 pm GMT via Zoom

The Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICwS) will be holding a day-long online conference on Wednesday 18 November on the issue of Media Freedom. Over a third of Commonwealth states are in the bottom half of the World Press Freedom Index 2020, but every member faces challenges in this area, and the issue of media freedom is one of the key concerns of the ICwS. The conference will consist of five, regionally-based panels drawing on first-hand accounts from journalists based in a series of Commonwealth countries. Issues raised will include:

  • The relationship between an effective media and democratic accountability;
  • Dangers posed by political developments such as the rise of populism;
  • The role of the inter-governmental Commonwealth and civil society in upholding international standards that protect media freedom;
  • The impact of changes in technology and economic sustainability;
  • The impact of COVID-19 on media freedom;
  • Examples of good practice from across the Commonwealth.

Draft Programme

8.00 am GMT     Welcome and introduction

Panel 1: South East Asia and the Pacific (16.00 Singapore, 19.00 Sydney 21.00 Auckland)

Professor David Robie (Director of the Pacific Media Centre at Auckland University of Technology, editor of Pacific Journalism Review and is convenor of the Pacific Media Watch freedom project. For more than two decades he focused on covering the Asia-Pacific region. He has reported on post-colonial coups, indigenous struggles for independence and environmental and developmental issues).

Peter Greste (Australian correspondent for Al Jazeera, Reuters, CNN and the BBC. In December 2013, Peter was arrested in Egypt with two other Al Jazeera correspondents and held until his deportation in February 2015). 

Cédric Alviani (East Asia Bureau Chief of Reporters without Borders. Cedric has lived in Asia since 1999 directing projects at the intersection of diplomacy, culture and media)

Chair: Sue Onslow (Institute of Commonwealth Studies)

11.00 am                    Panel 2: South Asia (Islamabad 16.00, New Delhi 16.30, Dhaka 17.00)                 

Najam Sethi (leading Pakistani journalist, businessman, and television host. Founder of The Friday Times and Vanguard Books). 

Rajdeep Sardesai (Indian news anchor, multimedia journalist and author. He is a consulting editor at the India Today group, and is an anchor for India Today Television).

Professor Daya Thussu (Professor of International Communication, Hong Kong Baptist University, formerly Professor and Co-Director of the India Media Centre at the University of Westminster, London).

Chair: Rita Payne (Emeritus chair of the Commonwealth Journalists Association)

2.00 pm                      Panel 3: Africa (Lagos 15.00, Johannesburg 16.00, Nairobi 17.00)

Ismail Einashe (an award-winning journalist and writer covering migration, human rights and international news. He has written for The Guardian, BBC News, The Sunday Times, Foreign Policy, The Nation and NPR, among many others).

Dapo Olorunyomi (Sometimes referred to as the ‘godfather’ of Nigerian online journalism, he is the co-founder, CEO, and publisher of the Nigerian newspaper Premium Times . Detained in 2017 by the Nigerian authorities for allegedly defaming the chief of the army staff).

Rodney Sieh (Liberian newspaper editor. Founder of FrontPage Africa. Imprisoned in 2013-14 by the Liberian authorities).

Peta Thornycroft (Zimbabwean journalist who has been the foreign correspondent for the Telegraph for many years.  She is based in South Africa and covers the southern African region and has written for many other international publications).

Chair: Kiran Hassan (Research Fellow/Co-ordinator Media Freedom Initiative) 

4.00 pm                      Panel 4: Europe and Canada (Valetta 17.00, Nicosia 18.00, Toronto 11.00)

Damian Tambini (Distinguished Policy Fellow in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, where he also serves as Programme Director for the MSc Media and Communications (Governance)

Dr Anne T. Gallagher AO (Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation)

James Wilson (Publisher of EU Political Report and a Board Director of the Brussels Press Club)

Chair: Philip Murphy (Director, Institute of Commonwealth Studies)

6.00 pm                      Panel 5: The Caribbean (Kingston 13.00, Georgetown 14.00)

Kiran Maharaj (President, Media Institute of the Caribbean; CoFounder, Caribbean Investigative Journalism Network; Vice President, TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce; and Immediate Past President Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association).

Aurora Herrera (Trinidadian journalist, writer and film-maker. Presenter of the Showcase Environment programme).

Steffon Campbell (Lecturer and Coordinator of the CARIMAC Western Jamaica Programme in Montego Bay. A regular contributor to the Western Mirror, he has produced several radio programmes and documentaries, in Jamaica, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago). 

Chair: Yvette Rowe (Academic, and radio and television producer, director and writer. Caribbean School of Media and Communication, University of the West Indies)


7.30 pm                    Concluding remarks


olga Jimenez