Sarkuhi honored at paper forum
By Ernst E. Abegg
Associated Press Writer
Monday, June 14, 1999
ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) -- Iranian editor Faraj Sarkuhi, who was imprisoned
both before and after the country's Islamic revolution, received the Golden
Pen of Freedom award Monday from the World Association of Newspapers.
Sarkuhi, former editor-in-chief of the banned monthly magazine Adineh,
told 1,100 editors and publishers from 88 countries that ``international
support and world pressure'' saved his life after he was condemned to death
three times ``during the tyranny of the Islamic Republic.''
But defenders of press freedom must go beyond periodic reports on ``harsh
methods used in despotic countries to control the media'' and do more to
combat self-censorship, he told the group's 52nd annual meeting.
``Self-censorship resulting from fear caused by threats and acts of
violence and cruelty is even more painful and harmful than traditional
methods of control,'' Sarkuhi said.
Sarkuhi went into exile in Germany last year. Adineh, a monthly magazine
of poetry and social criticism popular among Iranian intellectuals, had
its license revoked last February.
Even though moderate President Mohammad Khatami has pushed for greater
press freedom since his election in 1997, he remains locked in a power
struggle with hard-liners.
Iran's judiciary has shut down six publications in recent months and
arrested six journalists for allegedly publishing lies.
The association's annual study of world press trends presented Monday
showed that newspapers in 27 of 32 countries where data is available enjoyed
an increase in advertising revenues in 1998.
Circulation of daily newspapers fell by 1 percent in the United States,
0.5 percent across the European Union and 0.4 percent in Japan, the survey
said. But advertising revenue in the United States reached $3.93 billion,
up 6.2 percent over 1997. The figure for Europe was $20.3 billion, up 3.2
Brazil and some Asian countries, including Malaysia, Singapore and
Indonesia, had strong sales rises in 1998 despite their economic troubles,
the association said.
Newspapers have ``digested'' the challenges of economic recession,
a newsprint price crisis, new competition and the Internet, said Timothy
Balding, the association's director-general.
``There is clear evidence that newspapers are making a comeback after
a very long decade for the industry and that in many cases they are reversing
or stabilizing the downward trends,'' he said.
The Paris-based World Association of Newspapers represents 15,000 newspapers
around the world.