Deutsche Welle's DW Akademie and Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) will be working even closer together on media development.
DW Director-General Erik Bettermann and BMZ State Secretary Hans-Jürgen Beerfeltz have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperating more closely on journalism training in developing countries.
At a ceremony held March 11 in Berlin, Beerfeltz addressed representatives from politics and the media saying, "The right to freedom of expression has to be asserted all over the world." Many countries were without a free press, he said, "but it's only when people can speak freely and without fear that they can stand up for other rights." Journalists often put their own freedom at risk and warranted more support.
Beerfeltz said over the years BMZ had greatly increased its funding for media development and had also created a new department for media and press freedom. BMZ's most important partner for this, he said, was DW and DW Akademie - Germany's leading organization for international media development.
Bettermann underlined the memorandum's significance. "We've never cooperated this intensely before," he said, and this comprehensive approach to media development provided more than introductory and advanced training for journalists. Support was most effective, he said, if it also looked at media institutes' financial issues, underprivileged groups' access to information, and legal frameworks for freedom of expression and freedom of the press. With BMZ's support, he said, DW Akademie was focusing on these aspects with extensive, long-term projects.
Award focuses on human rights
The German Development Media Award is an example of this closer cooperation. In 2013 BMZ and DW will for the first time present the long-standing journalism prize together. And journalists from developing and transition countries can for the first time submit entries to one of seven categories. "You need courage, especially in developing countries, to confront and report on critical situations,” said DW Akademie Managing Director, Gerda Meuer. “I'd like these journalists to get the support they need to continue with their work."
Human rights are the focus of the award. Michael Windfuhr, Deputy Director of the German Institute for Human Rights and a member of the award jury said there was a strong correlation between media and human rights. "Journalists record human rights abuses and by doing this they challenge governments to accept responsibility," he said. "That’s how journalists often become defenders of human rights."