′The end of the freedom of expression is also the beginning of the end of democracy:′ GMF 2016 Opening Speech by DW Director General Peter Limbourg | DW Freedom | Speech. Expression. Media. | DW | 18.07.2016
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DW Freedom

'The end of the freedom of expression is also the beginning of the end of democracy:' GMF 2016 Opening Speech by DW Director General Peter Limbourg

Addressing the plenary at the 9th Global Media Forum (GMF) in Bonn on June 13, 2016, DW Director General Peter Limbourg invited all participants to discuss the forum's key topics: "Media.Freedom.Values."

Limbourg said: "All of us are working for the advancement of open societies and the free exchange of information. But still, limitations on political action, on human rights and the freedom of speech continue to threaten the values we expect to be universal.

In today's digital age, it has become easier to distribute disinformation and to manipulate public opinion. Therefore, we need to rethink the way in which we perceive, demonstrate and spread our values. Delivering our journalistic content to our audiences is calling for a new approach.

The most efficient way of contributing to the global debate is to enable as many DW users as possible to engage directly with a solid basis of facts through their preferred social media channels. Only when people are able to communicate freely will there be change. There exists the possibility to share ideas and values with others and the chance to inspire those who are still under the control of dictatorial regimes.

We want freedom of speech to be a universal right. We expect journalists to be able to be critical without having to fear retribution. Sadly, this is being impaired in more and more countries.

Each country is different, of course. We have to listen to the arguments of those in charge – and consider them. And we should avoid blanket judgements. But nothing – and I stress nothing – justifies a limitation on the freedom of expression that is rooted within a democratic constitution.

The freedom of the press can also be undermined by journalists themselves if they don't research with due diligence, if they plagiarize or neglect fact-checking, or if they scandalize every harmless occurrence. In doing so, they provide arguments to their enemies.

The end of the freedom of expression is also the beginning of the end of democracy. There are simply no more excuses when this point is reached. Each and every one of us is called upon to stand up and demand the freedom of expression loud and clear.

Another thing we need to realize in our globalized world with all its problems: nationalism is no solution. International cooperation, open-mindedness and the exchange of knowledge are what make us progress.

This is precisely what we at Deutsche Welle stand for – it is our mission!

Let me invite you to make the Global Media Forum a place where inspiring debates lead to solutions and a better understanding of the challenges ahead.

Welcome to the GMF and thank you all for your valuable contribution to a new outlook for a better tomorrow."
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