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CNN's Amanpour makes plea to fund and protect journalism

By Peter Bale, CNN
updated 10:34 AM EST, Thu November 14, 2013
CNN's Christiane Amanpour addresses the audience at NewsXchange in Morocco.
CNN's Christiane Amanpour addresses the audience at NewsXchange in Morocco.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CNN's Christiane Amanpour gave a speech at the NewsXchange event
  • She highlighted the need to fund journalism and respect human rights, including press freedom
  • She described U.S. President Barack Obama's administrations as "litigious against journalists"
  • Amanpour also encouraged journalists not to portray every person in authority as corrupt

(CNN) -- Christiane Amanpour has urged news industry leaders and politicians to protect journalism with proper funding and respect for human rights, including freedom of the press.

In a speech to a major gathering of television executives in Morocco on Thursday, CNN's Chief International Correspondent painted a picture of a vital industry squeezed by cost cutting on one hand and aggressive political interference on the other.

"What we are is story-tellers," Amanpour told the opening session of NewsXchange which brings together broadcasters from around the world. Without that commitment to storytelling, the industry would lose its reason to exist and society would lose the ability to hold politicians to account, she said.

"Good journalism is good business," Amanpour said, addressing a news industry fraught with concern about falling advertising budgets, challenges from the Internet and fears over the cost of maintaining news coverage. "Without the storytellers there is no business; there is no successful business."

Amanpour said that politicians were putting increasing pressure on journalists; particularly those from their own national and local media. She called for a recommitment to the principle of the freedom of the press, and a move away from the demonization of journalists themselves.

She described the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama as the most "litigious against journalists that we have had in decades," making clear it was not just a problem in emerging democracies such as Turkey, Cairo and Sri Lanka.

On Sri Lanka, where the government has attacked media coverage of its human rights record in the victory over Tamil Tiger rebels, Amanpour urged Commonwealth leaders meeting there this week to hold the Colombo government to account: "I do hope that they will put freedom of press and human rights at the top of their agenda."

At the same time Amanpour made clear journalists had a responsibility themselves to protect balance in their work and also not to portray every politician or person in authority as vain or corrupt.

"We are also at risk of further tearing down the fabric of civil society by adding to the notion that every form of authority is simply useless; hopeless."

AMANPOUR BLOG: Did UK government target journalist?

READ: Iraq: Where were the journalists?

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