The challenges to the freedom to publish are increasing.
A common challenge to publishers in all countries is the question of self-censorship.
Promote literacy that includes the ability to navigate in a world of trolls and fake news.
A European policy on the development of learning materials where publisher compete to deliver on curriculum.
Kristenn Einarsson is the Managing director World Expression Forum and also Chair of the Freedom to Publish Committee in the International Publishers Association and from this perspective gave a presentation during the session devoted to the European agenda for Publishing at the 2021 edition of Readmagine.
One of his first statements was: “If we are to create and maintain free, healthy societies, then publishers must have the will and the ability to challenge established thinking, preserve the history of our cultures, and to make room for new knowledge, critical opposition, and challenging artistic expression”.
Freedom to publish means challenging the boundaries established by the society, they operate and would be a pre-requisite for a healthy publishing industry in Europe. Einarsson said that “The conditions governing and restricting freedom to publish vary around the world. In many European countries, we have taken the freedom to publish for granted. But the challenges are many, and in my opinion, we need to set the freedom to publish on the European agenda for the publishing industry”.
On the sake of the COVID-19 crisis the governments of special laws and “there is a growing concern that these might be maintained in the future, after the crisis has ended, and that some of them could be used to limit the freedom to publish and freedom of expression”.
Einarsson pointed out that another common challenge to publishers in all countries is the question of self-censorship: “Even in countries with few regulations on freedom to publish, publishers might have to consider the negative consequences of producing and distributing certain content”.
Even there has also been reports on pressure groups within publishing houses, challenging the publishing choices by the editors in the same publishing house.
Another likely threat for the freedom to publish is the interference by government in the production of learning book: “There should of course be no censorship. Through the development of curriculum, the educational authorities can do some form of curation, but the authorities should leave it to a responsible publishing industry to develop learning material accordingly. It is important in all dialogues with governments also to stress the freedom to publish aspect of having a competitive market for learning materials”.
Kristenn Einarsson was clear during his presentation: “As a member and the chair of the Freedom to Publish Committee of the International Publishers Association for the last five years, I tend to conclude that the challenges to the freedom to publish is increasing. I do think that we need to set the freedom to publish firmly on the European agenda for the publishing industry” and added: “As the managing director of the newly founded World Expression Forum, we want to contribute to the development of the freedom of expression around the world. We want to do this with a global approach, but also look at regional and local challenges. We will have a yearly congress, but we will also develop projects and reports. The European publishing industry stands firmly behind the creation of World Expression Forum”.
The World Expression Forum (WEXFO) is founded to ensure, and empower global free expression based on high level guidance, best practice and high-quality analysis and their ambition is that WEXFO will be as important for the development of freedom of expression as the World Economic Forum is for the development of world economics.
From the European point of view, one of the projects that WEXFO is satrting is called “The development of Freedom of Expression in Europe and the role of European Union”, defined by Einarsson as “Gathering information will give us a better understanding of the European challenges and hopefully produce suggestions on how we best can ensure that a key factor for the continues success of the publishing industry, the freedom to publish what we deem is worth publishing, is uphold. We must promote literacy that includes the ability to navigate in a world of trolls and fake news and we need a European policy on the development of learning materials were publisher compete to deliver on curriculum”.
Einarsson finished his speech by stressing that “publishing has always been a challenging—and a rewarding—task. We need international cooperation, and we need to support each other so that we do not fail one of the major objectives of our work. As stated, the situation for the freedom to publish is more challenging than ever. But it is not a time for despair. As Nobel Laurate Toni Morrison said: This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, and no room for fear. We do language. That is how civilizations heal.”
Kristenn Enarsson is Managing director World Expression Forum , Chair of the Freedom to Publish Committee in the International Publishers Association and Chair of Norges Televisjon.
He has forty-five years of experience in Publishing and some previous positions were CEO of The Norwegian Publishers Association (2011 – 2020), CEO the Norwegian Book Clubs (1991-2010). Chairman of Kunnskapsforlaget Publishing house (2000 – 2008). Managing director same place (2008- 2010). President of the Bjørnson Academy (The Norwegian Academy for Literature and Freedom to Speech), chair of the Norwegian Film Fund (2001 – 2007), chair of the Norwegian Film Institute (2008- 2012) and board member of NORLA (Norwegian Literature Abroad) (2018 -2020).