Press release 23 June, 2016: Sparkasse Media Foundation awards 2016 “Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media” to Turkish journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül

Leipzig, 23 June, 2016. Turkish journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül will be awarded the 2016 Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media, sponsored by the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation. “This year’s list of nominees included many journalists and media organisations that make great and honest efforts to defend freedom of speech in their home countries or even in a cross-border context,” explains Stephan Seeger, Managing Director of the Media Foundation. “With the joint award for Can Dündar and Erdem Gül we honour two journalists who represent many of their colleagues in Turkey and elsewhere: They pursue their journalistic profession in an independent and unbiased manner – despite politically motivated persecution, threats of imprisonment or dangers to life and limb. The fact that four Turkish journalists (Ahmed Altan, Nedim Şener, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül) have been awarded our prize in recent years, is a sign of the state of press freedom in Turkey,” Seeger continues. The award is worth 30,000 euros and will be bestowed in two equal halves to both journalists. Can Dündar and Erdem Gül intend to accept the prize and will receive it at the award ceremony on 7 October 2016 in Leipzig (unless they are prevented from taking part in the ceremony). Read more …

23.06.2016


Press release 10 May, 2016: Centre for Press Freedom: “The strength lies in the pan-European network”

Press release on the occasion of the Deutscher StiftungsTag in Leipzig and of Medientreffpunkt Mitteldeutschland

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (founded in 2015) receives more funding from EU Commission

Leipzig, 10 Mai, 2016. This year’s May, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, decisively initiated and developed by the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig, celebrates its first anniversary. With the foundation of the ECPMF, press and media freedom in Europe has got a strong voice based in Leipzig. Core objective of the Centre is to link European initiatives and actors on media freedom and to assist in the coordination of their activities in order to jointly strengthen the freedom of press in Europe. “The Centre’s strength lies in the pan-European network and in the cooperation of highly qualified partners”, says Stephan Seeger, Managing Director of Media Foundation and member of the Board of ECPMF. Read more …

10.05.2016


Universität Leipzig und LSoM beglückwünschen bei gemeinsamer Feier mehr als 50 Absolventen

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

19.04.2016


Press release 24 February, 2016: Journalism with “vivid convictions”

Axel Eggebrecht Award 2016 goes to radio feature author Margot Overath

Leipzig, 24 February 2016. The Axel Eggebrecht Prize 2016, sponsored by Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation and endowed with 10,000 euros, will go to radio feature author Margot Overath. The award ceremony will be held during the Media Foundation’s summer party on 30 August, 2016 in Leipzig.

“We congratulate Margot Overath on winning the Axel Eggebrecht Prize and express our gratitude to jury chairman Richard Goll as well as the jury members Linde Rotta, Ulrike Toma, Aldo Gardini and Jens Jarisch for their outstanding decision. They made an excellent choice from a list of ten strong competitors, that had been proposed by the heads of programming of almost all public broadcasters in Germany and Austria,” said Stephan Seeger, Managing Director of the Leipzig Sparkasse Foundations, when commenting on the jury’s decision. Read more …

24.02.2016


Press release 17 February, 2016: Erich Loest’s 90th birthday: Remembering a powerful writer

Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig announces Erich Loest Prize

Leipzig, 17 February, 2016. Erich Loest would have turned 90 on 24 February, 2016. Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig is taking this as an opportunity to announce the

Erich Loest Prize

The prize will be awarded for the first time on 24 February 2017 and then every two years; it is endowed with 10,000 euros.

Stephan Seeger, Managing Director of Media Foundation, explained: “With this decision, the Foundation Board and the Foundation Council honour a powerful writer, an intellectual interested in social policy, a constant admonisher, when the depths of German and East-West German history threatened to sink into oblivion, and an avowed citizen of Leipzig, who was always wholeheartedly interested in the fate of his city.” Read more …

17.02.2016


Foundation

Whoever wants to support and sponsor the development of a free media has to consider more than the mere economic and employment-oriented aspects. A media centre becomes especially important and attractive when it represents a climate where the media’s great responsibility towards society is recognized as a duty as well as a challenge.

The Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig public savings bank wants to contribute to this climate. One of its key commitments is the fostering of training and further education possibilities for young people in the media field. This involves scholarships (e.g. through the Leipzig Media Award), targeted project support, and the organization of civic education events, such as for the commemoration of the Peaceful Revolution of 1989 in Leipzig.

The Foundation projects are financed by the Foundation itself as well as third party contributions and donations.

Every year, the Foundation awards its “Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media”. In addition, the Foundation awards the “Axel Eggebrecht Prize”, the “Günter Eich Prize” and the “Golden Dove” (former “Talent Dove”).

Nikolaisäule (Andreas Lamm)

Sculpture “Nikolaisäule” (“St. Nicholas Column”) as symbol of the “Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media” (Photo: Andreas Lamm)

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Teaching and Research

The Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig is particularly committed to education and training in the media sector. Therefore, the Foundation cooperates closely with local universities and other educational institutions and founded institutes, launched initiatives and projects and created the necessary infrastructure for media-related activities. The respective core institutions are:

  • the “Leipzig School of Media” (LSoM) with its part-time academic master degree programs and seminar programs,
  • the “European Institute for Journalism and Communication Research” (EIJC) with scholarships granted throughout of Europe,
  • special events for the genres of radio feature and radio play

Discover these areas by visiting the related web pages and learn more about the funding spectrum of the Media Foundation.

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Press

Press release 23 June, 2016: Sparkasse Media Foundation awards 2016 “Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media” to Turkish journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül

Leipzig, 23 June, 2016. Turkish journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül will be awarded the 2016 Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media, sponsored by the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation. “This year’s list of nominees included many journalists and media organisations that make great and honest efforts to defend freedom of speech in their home countries or even in a cross-border context,” explains Stephan Seeger, Managing Director of the Media Foundation. “With the joint award for Can Dündar and Erdem Gül we honour two journalists who represent many of their colleagues in Turkey and elsewhere: They pursue their journalistic profession in an independent and unbiased manner – despite politically motivated persecution, threats of imprisonment or dangers to life and limb. The fact that four Turkish journalists (Ahmed Altan, Nedim Şener, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül) have been awarded our prize in recent years, is a sign of the state of press freedom in Turkey,” Seeger continues. The award is worth 30,000 euros and will be bestowed in two equal halves to both journalists. Can Dündar and Erdem Gül intend to accept the prize and will receive it at the award ceremony on 7 October 2016 in Leipzig (unless they are prevented from taking part in the ceremony).

Justifying the fact that this year’s laureates will also be from Turkey following the bestowals of recent years, Seeger says: “The jury’s decision shows that the threat to press freedom in Turkey is regarded as an intrinsic feature of the political system, which suppresses the pluralistic formation of opinion, in turn endangering the work and lives of journalists. Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, two outstanding and renowned journalists, have been living with these threats for years, most recently as chief editor and Ankara correspondent of Cumhuriyet newspaper respectively.” The jury is deeply worried by this development in a country which is such an important partner for Europe.

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) confirms the jury’s view in general and also its specific decision regarding Dündar and Gül. At the beginning of the trial in Istanbul, Michelle Trimborn was present as a representative of the Centre to meet the journalists personally and to support the fight for their rights. The ECPMF actively supports them and other threatened journalists in Turkey. Dündar and Gül became targets of the state due to a report they had published together on alleged Turkish arms supplies to extremists in Syria. The reaction to their work was not a public investigation of the press reports but instead the legal prosecution of the journalists and charges of espionage and aiding terrorists, backed by President Erdogan as joint plaintiff. Their – as yet not legally valid – sentence of May 2016 raises reasonable doubt as to the Turkish judicial authorities’ willingness to defend the freedom of the press. The award for Can Dündar and Erdem Gül is therefore also a sign of solidarity with them, their families and all the journalists who are suffering from state repressions in Turkey today.

About the laureates
Can Dündar, born in Ankara (Turkey) in 1961, studied journalism at the Faculty of Political Science of Ankara University (until 1982) and at the London School of Journalism (until 1986), received his master’s degree in 1988 and his PhD in Political Science from the Technical University of the Near East in Ankara in 1996. After that he worked for several newspapers and TV stations, including the public TRT from 1988 as well as for private channels such as CNN Türk and NTV. He worked as a columnist for the newspaper Milliyet for many years, where he was fired with immediate effect in 2013, probably due to critical columns on the protests in connection with Istanbul’s Gezi Park. Then he worked for Cumhurriyet and became editor-in-chief of the newspaper in early 2015. In May 2014 he published material on alleged entanglements of the Turkish state in the Syrian civil war together with the head of the newspaper’s Ankara office, Erdem Gül.

Erdem Gül, born in the Turkish city of Giresun in 1967, studied journalism at the Gazi University in Ankara. In 1992 he began his professional career at the Turkish news agency Anka. In 2010 he became Cumhurriyet’s parliamentary correspondent, and since 2013 he was head of the newspaper’s Ankara office. In the Cumhurriyet trial concerning the reporting of a secret Turkish military transport operation to Syria, Erdem Gül was the main defendant. He was sentenced to five years in prison. This sentence is not yet legally valid either.

Both journalists were arrested in November 2015. However, the Constitutional Court of Turkey declared the provisional custody as unlawful in February 2016. The trial began on 25 March, 2016, with the accusation of knowingly and intentionally aiding an armed terror organisation and espionage of state secrets. While Dündar was awaiting sentencing on 6 May, 2016, he was attacked and shot. Dündar was sentenced to five years and ten months in prison for publishing state secrets, while Gül was sentenced to five years. Neither sentence is yet legally valid.

About the award
Each year since 2001, the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation has awarded the “Prize for the Freedom and the Future of the Media” in order to honour journalists, publishers, and institutions that have demonstrated great personal commitment to ensuring the freedom and the future of the media. The award is also intended to commemorate the Peaceful Revolution in Leipzig on 9 October 1989, during which protesters demanded “free press for a free country”.

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Laureates 2012: Balázs Nagy Navarro and Aranka Szávuly

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Photo: Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig

The two Hungarian journalists Balázs Nagy Navarro and Aranka Szávuly are vice-presidents of the Independent Trade Union of television and film makers in Hungary and, until recently, were editors at public Hungarian television “MTV”.

On 10 December 2011, after a scandalous blurring out of Zoltan Lomnici, the former head of the Hungarian Supreme Court, in public television news, Nagy Navarro and Szávuly initiated a three-week hunger strike protesting against news manipulation by pro-government responsibles of the channel. On the 17th day of the hunger strike, Nagy Navarro and Szávuly were dismissed illegally. After their dismissal they were not allowed to enter the public media buildings despite their rights as trade union leaders. Half a year later, Nagy Navarro was allowed by court order to pick up his personal belongings from the building.

With the entry into force of the internationally controversial Hungarian media law in January 2011, the leading positions of public broadcasting have been filled with cadres close to the ruling party FIDESZ. These people abuse their powerful positions to manipulate news information almost daily, say numerous employees of the stations.

In order to protest against these practices, Nagy Navarro and Szávuly started a hunger strike on 10 December 2011, which continued until 31 December. Shortly before, both editors were dismissed, although they enjoy protection from dismissal as trade unionists. Since their public protest, Nagy Navarro and Szávuly are often defamed or criticized by FIDESZ-controlled media outlets. When asked about his commitment, Nagy Navarro said: “I must always remember, that elsewhere people are risking their lives for civil rights. I am only risking my job.”

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European Centre for Press and Media Freedom

It was at the Leipzig Media Congress, held by the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation in October of 2010 on the 10th anniversary of the creation of its Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media, that Hans-Ulrich Jörges, Co-Editor of STERN magazine and Editor in Chief for Special Affairs of Gruner + Jahr, introduced the idea of creating a European Centre for the Freedom of the Press to the public for the first time. In 2009, Jörges had already initiated the European Charter on Freedom of the Press, signed by 48 editors in chief and other influential journalists from 19 countries. The next step, creating a Centre for Freedom of the Press, was a means of putting this charter into practice.

Leipzig was the heart of the Peaceful Revolution in Eastern Germany where, in the fall of 1989, tens of thousands of GDR citizens protested state power and made many demands, among them the demand for freedom of the media. Now Leipzig seems to be the perfect place to continue, with its Media Foundation that has already promoted freedom of the press for years. The Media Foundation builds on the spirit of that autumn in 1989, and has funded the Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media since 2001.

Pressekonferenz_Brüssel_30.06.2015 (European Parliament)

Visit of ECPMF project partners at the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, in Brussels (from left to right): Dr Lutz Mükke (Project Coordinator ECPMF), Hans-Ulrich Jörges (Gruner+Jahr), Maria Laura Franciosi (Ossigeno per l’Informazione), Martin Schulz (European Parliament), Luisa Chiodi (Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso), Dr Harald Langenfeld (Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig), Margo Smit (VVOJ), Ides Debruyne (Journalismfund.eu), Stephan Seeger (Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig). Picture: EU-Parliament

Immediately after the 2010 Media Congress, we began working on a concept to serve as the basis for a search for new project supporters. Our tasks included identifying the legal entity that would guarantee the centre the maximum degree of independence and manoeuvrability. The board was eventually able to find a partner with expertise in EU law who was prepared to work with the project pro bono until its official foundation. This partner was the law firm CMS Hasche Sigle. They found the European Cooperative Society (SCE) model to be the most suitable legal form for the project, and set about creating draft statutes based on the Centre’s intended goals.

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF for short) seeks to provide those who defend the freedom of the press and the media in Europe with a voice that will be heard. The Centre’s core tasks are to bring European media freedom initiatives and actors together under one roof and to coordinate their activities. Thanks both to its diverse member base from all across Europe and its team in Leipzig, the ECPMF is able to document instances in which the freedom of the press has been violated and journalists persecuted, and to inform both the public and those with the power to make political decisions of relevant ongoing conflict and imminent danger in Europe.

One important step was winning the support of EU institutions in order to establish the project as a European initiative. Hans-Ulrich Jörges; Christoph Keese, Senior Vice President for Investor Relations and Public Affairs at Axel Springer SE; and Stephan Seeger, Managing Director of the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation found an extraordinary advocate in Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. In discussions with other members of the Parliament, including Vice President Alexander Graf Lambsdorff and Elmar Brok, Head of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, we were able to form an alliance of supporters spanning all political parties. Finally, in its consultations, the Parliament approved a budget of one million euros to found the Centre.

On the condition that the project would receive EU funding, the Free State of Saxony and the City of Leipzig also declared their willingness to provide financial support. With the additional financial commitment of the Sparkasse Media Foundation, all of the necessary steps could be taken. Ultimately, we were able to create a detailed project plan that would allow us to submit an application to the European Commission and to seek the support of European journalistic organizations, institutions, and associations that promote issues concerning the freedom of the press. To do so, further expert input was needed.

We searched for a suitable project manager and found Dr Lutz Mükke. He was already familiar with the foundation, having been its first Ph.D. scholarship fellow. Dr Mükke began a rewarding search for project partners across Europe. At the same time, our attention was focused on developing a detailed draft concept. In addition to the Free State of Saxony, the City of Leipzig, and the Media Foundation, we also gained the support of the Federal Foreign Ministry. In October 2013 we were able to submit the application to the European Commission on time.

Sadly, to the great disappointment of everyone involved, including the members of the European Parliament themselves, the European Commission did not select the 2013 application. Instead of funding a single Centre, they decided to support several projects and organizations. Nevertheless, following the Board’s recommendation and explicitly encouraged by both the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, and the other supporting members of the Parliament, the Media Foundation Council decided to stick to the plan and submit a new application in 2014. There was a new call for project participants and we restructured the concept before submitting it in a new application to the Commission.

In March 2015, we finally received the message from the European Commission in Brussels saying that the Media Foundation had won the bid and had been selected as leading partner, together with partners from three other European countries, to form the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom. The other partners were Journalismfund.eu from Belgium; the Institute for European Media Law from Germany; Ossigeno per l’Informazione and Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso, both from Italy; and the South East Europe Media Organization, or SEEMO, from Austria.

The founding assembly of this European Cooperative Society (SCE) and the election of the members of the Board and Supervisory Board took place in Leipzig on 24 June, 2015.

The list of founding members includes representatives from more than 20 European journalistic organizations, media companies, and trade unions, as well as media experts and lawyers from all over Europe. The legal entity of the European Cooperative Society guarantees the Centre’s validity in all 28 EU member states and a maximum degree of independence from government institutions. At the same time, it enables the direct participation of affiliated organizations and initiatives in the Centre’s work. This cooperation can be seen in many places, including in the bodies of the ECPMF. Both the Board and the Supervisory Board count a number of representatives from important European freedom of the press initiatives among their members. The Centre’s operations are coordinated in Leipzig at the Media Campus Villa Ida, the seat of the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation.

After having played such a decisive role in developing, planning, promoting, and financing this project, the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation has now decided to pursue its inclusion in the register of cooperative societies and attain full legal capacity to act, thus becoming a completely independent and autonomous institution. The foundation will always support the ECPMF to the best of its ability. The foundation would like to thank CMS Hasche Sigle law firm, BDO auditing company, certified public accountant and tax consultant Hartwig Künckeler, and German Cooperative Union in Frankfurt for having offered their expertise and generous support.

Stephan Seeger
Managing Director of the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation
Director Foundations of Sparkasse Leipzig

Further information: www.ecpmf.eu and twitter.com/ECPMF

ECPMF members

  • Galina Arapova, Director of Mass Media Defence Centre (MMDC), Russia
  • Mogens Blicher Bjerregaard, President of European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • Federica Delogu, journalist at Ossigeno per l’informazione, Italy
  • Vesselin Dimitrov, Deputy Editor in Chief of Forbes Bulgaria
  • Jodie Ginsberg, Chief Executive of Index on Censorship, UK
  • Nadine Gogu, Executive Director of Independent Journalism Center, Moldavia
  • Esad Hećimović, investigative reporter and editor of OBN TV Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Hans-Ulrich Jörges, Co-Editor of STERN magazine and Editor in Chief for Special Affairs of Gruner + Jahr, Germany
  • Henrik Kaufholz, Co-founder and Manager of SCOOP, Denmark
  • Christoph Keese, Senior Vice President of Axel Springer SE, Germany
  • Dr Harald Langenfeld, Chairman of Sparkasse Leipzig and Media Foundation, Germany
  • Gavin MacFadyen, Director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, University of London, UK
  • Răzvan Cristian Martin, Coordinator of the FreeEx Program at ActiveWatch, Romania
  • Anthony McNicholas, Senior Lecturer at Faculty of Arts, Design and Media, University of Westminster, UK
  • Kerstin Mey, Dean of Faculty of Arts, Design and Media, University of Westminster, UK
  • Dr Helga Montag, Member of the Board of Journalisten helfen Journalisten association, Germany
  • Dr Lutz Mükke, General Manager of ECPMF
  • Balázs Nagy Navarro, independent journalist, Hungary
  • Peter Noorlander, CEO of Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI)
  • Professor Stephan Ory, Director of Institute for European Media Law (EMR), Germany
  • Dr Georgios Pleios, Professor and Head of Communication and Media Studies Department at National and Kapodistrian University Athens, Greece
  • Vladimir Radomirovic, Editor in Chief of Pištaljka, Serbia
  • Renate Schröder, Director of European Federation of Journalists
  • Stephan Seeger, Managing Director of Media Foundation, Germany
  • Naser Selmani, Director of Association of Journalists of Macedonia, Macedonia
  • Ljiljana Smajlović, President of Journalists’ Association of Serbia, Serbia
  • Trine Smistrup, Project Manager, Journalismfund, Belgium
  • Margo Smit, independent investigative journalist, ombudswoman at public radio NOS, the Netherlands (former Director of Dutch-Flemish Association of Investigative Journalists (VVOJ))
  • Martin Stoll, President of Öffentlichkeitsgesetz.ch, Switzerland
  • Dr Dirk Voorhoof, Professor for International Media Law, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Oliver Vujovic, Secretary General of SEEMO, Austria
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Contact

Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig

Menckestraße 27
D-04155 Leipzig
Germany

Phone: +49 341 – 5629 661
Fax: +49 341 – 5629 663
info(at)leipziger-medienstiftung.de

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Media Campus

The “Media Campus” in the Leipzig district of Gohlis was erected by the Media Foundation. Together with the historic Villa Ida building where the actual seat of the Foundation is located it forms an interesting ensemble and thus literally combines old and new.

“Media Campus Villa Ida” is home of the “Leipzig School of Media” (LSoM), a subsidiary of the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig. In cooperation with local universities, the LSoM offers part-time master courses for media professionals. www.leipzigschoolofmedia.de

The building includes a large hall for events with a capacity of up to 280 seats, which can be divided by a movable partition wall. This room can also be used as a lecture hall. On the first floor you find two seminar rooms with 25 seats each, a training room for video editing with ten seats and an audio recording studio. On the top floor there is a PC room with 23 seats and offices for lecturers. In addition, the building accommodates a small public bistro, which also supplies the Media Campus and four apartments for scholars/guest lecturers.

Hotel Michaelis Leipzig runs our “Restaurant Campus” and is the exclusive partner for the catering of every event at “Media Campus”.

Media Campus Villa Ida
Hotel Michaelis

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