Origins and Philosophy
Founded in 1991, the International Communications Forum is a growing world-wide network of media people who recognise that they have the power to influence society for good or ill and who want to play their part in building a less corrupt, less grubby-minded and infinitely more compassionate world. In this way, the Forum believes it can help to create the moral basis of society without which democracy cannot flourish.
The ICF is an independent entity, with its own leadership and control over its budget and finances. The ICF co-operates with many media organisations throughout the world. It partners with Initiatives of Change. This partnership is expressed in a number of ways, including an annual ICF assembly at the Caux Conference Centre, Switzerland, and the support of endeavours launched by programmes of Initiatives of Change. The ICF has the use of office facilities at the IofC premises in Greencoat Place, London, and its web site is hosted by IofC but retains its separate identity.
Many media organizations have a worldwide basis, focused mainly on professional problems. Uniquely, the ICF believes first and foremost in a person-to-person, conscience-to-conscience dialogue. Those inspired by the ICF are aware that they are not only media professionals but are above all human beings and citizens addressing other human beings and citizens. The media is more than a conventional business, making money with a product sold to a consumer. If we who work in the media do not serve the citizen with honesty and dedication democracy is in danger. The ICF’s conviction is that we in the media ought to give the people all they need not only to understand what is happening around them but also to understand each other, even those who are far away. Last but not least, those inspired by the ICF are expected to show in their day-to-day activity that they are striving to implement in deeds the principles they care for.
This conviction can be seen in the way the ICF’s Forums are organized. Unlike conventional conferences the ICF’s Forums are a unique occasion of sharing experiences. Those attending share in a common reflection between colleagues, seeking better ways of serving their profession and the people. We do not preach or promote a set of rules. We do not pretend to know better. The Forums do not end with the closure of the conference, but serve to build an ever-growing network of people of good will in the media linked by solidarity and friendship. The same principles apply to other parts of our programme. The ICF is indeed a truly exceptional phenomenon in the media.
How the ICF Began
By William Porter
It is unlikely that any change of direction in human behaviour and purpose takes place just for one reason or because of one thing. Even before a change occurs, there are elements at work that provoke it. It is the consequence of a number of factors. And if the change is to be one in a right direction, it needs to have an inner source of inspiration. In my case there were at least two triggers of change which were decisive, but there was also a fair amount of thinking about the state of society and of the role of my world, the media, in affecting it. The first trigger was reading in The Financial Times about 11 years ago that the communications industry, including the mass media, had become the largest industry in the world. That led me to ask if we were the most responsible and I felt that the answer was a definite NO….
This the opening paragraph of Bill Porter’s introduction to a Report on the ICF’s first ten years.
Merger with the International Council for Press and Broadcasting
As of September 2013, the ICF has merged with the International Council for Press and Broadcasting, the media wing of the Next Century Foundation, an organisation which deals primarily with conflict resolution issues and holds an annual International Media Awards in London. It also takes press delegations to the Middle East and South Asia as well as running annual conferences on subjects such as Xenophobia and Disinformation.
The International Council for Press and Broadcasting was established by the Next Century Foundation in 2007. It incorporated the International Media Council (founded 2000) of the Next Century Foundation and the International Institute for Media Ethics (founded 2005). It was established to eliminate confusion caused following the establishment of a second International Media Council by the Davos World Economic Forum organisation in 2006. The merger with the International Communication Forum has seen all ICPB activities, including the Media Awards, move under the auspices of the ICF.
The International Media Council is committed to promoting, "peace through media". Though it recognises that the business of publishers is to sell newspapers, it believes that the media has an ethical responsibility for encouraging harmony in today's Middle East. Convinced that the honesty or dishonesty in the media affects the mental health of the world, the Council believes that freedom of expression has a price. This price is continual vigilance - in particular vigilance in identifying and exposing the encouragement of malice or war, and the incitement of hatred in print and image.
The current Chairman is William Morris, who will also step up to become Chairman of the ICF as part of the merger. Trustees are Michael Binyon OBE (of the Times), Gamon Mclellen (former head of BBC Arabic), June Jacobs CBE, Ambassador Mark Gregory Hambley, Deborah Pout and Laila Asser.
ICF has four specific objectives:
1. To challenge those engaged in films, videos, television, newspapers, books, magazines, music, the theatre, public relations and advertising to promote a culture based on honest, clean and fair values.
2. To inspire those who work in these areas to provide knowledge and entertainment that will enrich and elevate young and old alike.
3. To encourage those who supply news and information to report and interpret situations in such a way that everyone can have confidence in what they read, hear and view - and that, in the process, no one has his or her privacy improperly infringed.
4. To stimulate publishers to uplift and not to degrade their readers, and to make the promotion of the highest values of civilisation their main objective.
A profound statement of ICF’s vision of the role of the media in the 21st century is embodied in the Sarajevo Commitment, promulgated in that city at a Forum organised by ICF in 2000.
The ICF's merger with the ICPB has also seen the latter's Media Ethics Code come under its banner.