Mogens B. Bjerregård, President of the European Federation of Journalists, believes that New Times can create important bridges between asylum seekers and the Danish society.
By: Michael Bang
It is rare that asylum seekers in Denmark work and use their competences, while their asylum case is being processed, and that is what makes New Times unique and valuable:
“I think New Times is a fantastic thing, because if you are a journalist or possess the competences, you get a chance to use them, while you’re an asylum seeker,” says Mogens B. Bjerregård, who is the President of the European Federation of Journalists. We invited him to a talk about journalism and journalist on the run.
Contributes to the democracy
New Times has been the voice of asylum seekers for 20 years. Why is it important that asylum seekers have their own magazine?
“It is important for everyone to have a voice, but when this has an even more significant influence, it is because it contributes to the democratic development. Through New Times asylum seekers are initiated to read about what happens in the society (…) and New Times is an important example, because it builds bridges between being an asylum seeker and becoming a permanent member of the Danish society.”
Storytelling with indignation
Why is it important to get the asylum seekers’ own stories out in the media?
“They are very personal and it is a fundamental element in journalism, that you have some strong person driven stories, because then it focus more on the individual instead of masses. I think it is important that we understand, that this is about humans”
How does it influence the journalists at New Times, that they write about an area, which they have a personal relationship with?
“It is a strong motive force, that you should use to tell good stories, but of course it can be difficult to write about these things as an asylum seeker. Therefore you should make sure that you do it properly and ethically, but the indignation is not a problem for me. I think it makes the story stronger.”
100 journalists are murdered every year
Some of the writers at New Times are educated journalist and persecuted because of their work. How is the situation on safety and freedom of speech for journalists around the world today?
“It is a major problem. More than 100 journalists are killed every year and only 6-7% of the cases are solved.”
“This is happening in countries where it is extremely difficult to investigate and the rule of law is very low. So when journalists are applying for asylum in Denmark, we have to take it very serious, because it is a dangerous risk they run.”
New network for journalist on the run
Mogens B. Bjerregård is furthermore involved in a new project for asylum seekers and refugees with a journalistic background. It is a network of journalists organized by International Media Support and the Danish Union of Journalists to help refugees to get out on the labour market and work as a journalist.
Mogens B. Bjerregård was the President of the Danish Union of Journalists from 1999-2015 and one of the founding member of International Media Support.