The Forum of this year is taking place at a very difficult time. Governments, peoples, journalistic organizations of all countries are faced with a serious, new threat and a new challenge to our civilization. The COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis caused by its consequences are exerting a profound impact on journalists around the world. While we are actively developing international cooperation with journalists worldwide, we also see what grave consequences they are experiencing in various European countries. In Russia, measures to support the media were taken quickly enough, so the Russian media was not impacted by the crisis as hard as we had initially feared. The Russian Union of Journalists has been actively participating in the work to support the affected media and journalists, making every effort to jointly rectify the situation as soon as possible. In this process, we adhere to the principles of solidarity and cooperation, partnership and support for each other in difficult times. We believe, just like our Chinese colleagues, that these principles are the basis for the safety and successful work of journalists both within our countries and in the international arena.
Many media have ceased their work, and many journalists have been left unemployed. The pandemic-triggered economic crisis is causing another big and difficult problem – the crisis of confidence. The wave of “fake news” is intensifying, the gap between peoples is deepening, mistrust and hostility are growing. In our view, this problem and concern is also one of the biggest dangers facing journalists today and may threaten them in the near future. The pandemic and the disease will be defeated, but if the crisis of confidence remains unconquered, using journalism as an instrument for the dirty political confrontation between countries and peoples, the very essence of journalism will be corrupted. Journalism, a way of establishing dialogue to advance progress and cooperation, can be turned into a means of total information war.
We must not allow this to happen. We must stick to the basic ideas and principles underlying the spirit and ideas of our profession, and strengthen cooperation and dialogue between our organizations, journalists and peoples. The principles of good neighborliness and partnership, sincere interest in common achievements and successes, exchange of best experience and fraternal cooperation of our journalists are the key to our success and victory over the crisis. We must unswervingly develop joint training for journalists, exchange experiences, hold joint activities and carry out common work. The world of international journalism is very diverse, each of our countries has its own unique experience that can be shared among colleagues in the name of the prosperity of our profession and common good.
The Belt and Road Journalists Network is a broad road along which we jointly overcome the problems and difficulties of the day, no matter how tough and complex they are. We support this path, uphold our solidarity and wish journalists of all our countries honest, fair and safe work, sound social security and a peaceful, friendly partnership.
(Speech by Timur Shafir, Secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists, from the 2020 Belt & Road Journalists Forum themed Journalism Exchange and Cooperation in the Post Covid-19 Era)