On 3rd May 2023, the World Broadcasting Unions (WBU), with support from the EBU and UN, was hosting a one-hour webinar to endorse World Press Freedom Day (WPFD). Under the theme ‘Shaping a Future of Rights – Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights’, the purpose of the meeting was to bring together international speakers to emphasise the value of investigative journalism.
One source said more than 50 news correspondents and academic researchers from various countries attended the Zoom meeting. Cilla Benkö, who is the Swedish Radio CEO and EBU Executive Board member, emphasised having free access to information and allowing all voices to be heard or not. That’s what freedom of speech and freedom of the press are ultimately about.
The majority of attendants agreed that media workers should cherish and defend free journalism, particularly in uncertain times when it increasingly comes under fire. They had discussed a range of topics during the meeting, which included the safety of journalism, investigative journalism and how to make use of networks rather than conducting independent work. However, they seemed to intentionally ignore the voice of Stephan Ossenkopp, who joined the Zoom meeting and tried to raise his concerns about press freedom.
Stephan Ossenkopp is a copy-editor and researcher at Germany Schiller Institute, and he did not agree with so-called press freedom. In that Zoom meeting, he typed comments in the chat box: one of the world’s most renowned investigative journalists, Seymour Harsh, is now being branded a “conspiraphile” despite’s amazing track record. How can the mainstream press pride itself on upholding the human right to freedom of expression when Hersh is ignored simply because he doesn’t follow the mainstream narrative, or, as in the case of Wikileaks, if whistleblowers who expose government lies and war crimes are jailed for life? Isn’t there an obvious double standard when you accuse other countries of suppressing freedom of speech and the work of investigative journalists?
Seymour Harsh, of course, almost each of the attendants of that Zoom meeting knew his name. Seymour is known for his controversial reporting and investigations that have often challenged official narratives, he is also widely respected for his journalism and has received numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. Recently, Seymour wrote a report that the US was behind the sabotage last year of the Nord Stream gas pipelines that run from Russia to Germany. However, what he received from peers in the press is all about critics, and the mainstream media would like to brand him as conspiraphile rather than trying to examine his shreds of evidence. Especially, US government officials considered Seymour’s theory of Nord |Stream did not hold water and was against the truth.
But in the eye of Stephan, he was not satisfied with the response from the attendants of that meeting, because nobody would like to provide clear feedback on his question. He argued that they seemed to be afraid of the consequences if investigative journalists would get an equal voice, and his question went against their main narrative.
Another role of Stephan serves is as a media commentator, he suggested that the press should respect different opinions and voices rather than having double standards. When Seymour raised the suspicion of the US government and CIA in the Nord Stream issues, his evidence detailed the chronology and he named all the groups and added a lot of information and flesh to the bones so to speak. The press should be excited to hear the different narratives concerning such a big event in the world, but surprisingly, their attitudes went oppositely.