Hannah Arendt Initiative: New network to protect journalists around the world | Home | DW | 18.10.2022
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Hannah Arendt Initiative: New network to protect journalists around the world

The German government is supporting media professionals who are at risk with a new protection program. As part of the initiative, DW Akademie and other civil society organizations are developing pilot projects.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and the Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth are jointly launching the Hannah Arendt Initiative. With this new program, the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media provide support for journalists, media professionals and defenders of freedom of expression, who are in crisis and conflict zones abroad or are now in exile in Germany.  

Both at home and abroad, Hannah Arendt Initiative projects are already in their pilot phases. The partners are civil society organizations, including DW Akademie, the European Fund for Journalism in Exile (JX Fund), Media in Cooperation and Transition (MiCT) and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF).  

The initiative provides support to journalists at risk – from Afghanistan, Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, among others – through providing emergency scholarships, training measures and regional scholarship programs, as well as corresponding measures for those in exile in Germany. In addition, the initiative includes an emergency program for averting immediate threats to media workers in their countries of origin in a targeted and rapid manner.  

"Journalists are increasingly becoming targets for dictators, anti-democrats and extremists, as they shake the propaganda of the Potemkin villages in Moscow, Kabul, Tehran and around the world with their free and independent reporting. They are powerful, self-confident voices in the struggle for freedom and self-determination, for democracy and peace," emphasized Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth.  

At the start of the Hannah Arendt Initiative, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock stated: "Free journalism is the best medicine against human rights violations and abuses of power. Especially in these times, we once again see how indispensable the work of journalists is who, for example, report on the protests of intrepid women and girls in Iran, or Russia's horrific war crimes in Ukraine. They are too often persecuted, arrested, beaten and murdered for their work. In order for these courageous people to continue their work, they need safe havens, work opportunities and support. That's why we are now creating the Hannah Arendt Initiative, an emergency assistance program to provide tangible protection and support measures for media workers and journalists."  

The role of DW Akademie  

DW Akademie’s contribution to the protection program involves coordinating and expanding its partner network to allow for continuous development of the range of assistance offered. As a network partner, DW Akademie is also implementing the pilot project "Space for Freedom". The project aims to secure the professional livelihoods of media professionals from Afghanistan, Belarus and Russia who are now working in exile, while supporting critical reporting by journalists and media in exile.  

DW Akademie is conducting discussions and interviews around the world in order to draw a precise picture of the threats facing journalists. In the process, our experts are also examining existing support services to identify potential gaps and new exigencies. The investigation’s focus is on both media workers and outlets, as well as civil society organizations committed to freedom of expression.  

In addition, DW Akademie is organizing forums to promote dialogue in Georgia, Lebanon, South Africa and throughout Latin America. These events are designed to extend communication with both regional experts and those affected by crisis, to identify threats and necessary assistance.   

Committed to the principle of state neutrality  

The protection program is committed to the German constitutional requirements of state neutrality and separation of media and state. The program’s future structure will apply these principles to the pilot projects of all participating organizations. Funding is provided solely on the basis of opinion-neutral criteria and by independent juries whose opinions are not influenced by the state.  

The Federal Foreign Office has already earmarked 3.5 million euros for the Hannah Arendt Initiative in 2022. The funds will support media professionals who, through their work, continue to promote independent reporting in their countries of origin – initially 360 people abroad. By contributing 4.2 million euros to the European Fund for Journalism in Exile (JX Fund) since April 2022, the Commissioner for Culture and the Media has already helped support more than 500 media professionals. 

Find the joint press release here.