We caught up with Julie Reintjes, who recently joined Media Defence as Communications Assistant.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Julie, and I have been working at Media Defence for about two months now. There is a lot to do, and I have really been enjoying it so far! Prior to starting at Media Defence, I worked at an arts education charity, where I coordinated the activities of various international education centres, community development projects, and cultural heritage regeneration programmes in Azerbaijan, China, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Before that, I worked at organisations including the UCL Bartlett Institute for Sustainable Heritage, the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
What is your role at Media Defence?
I work as the Communications Assistant, and I am part of the Development Team. My background is in human rights, but also in visual arts and film. Therefore, working in communications at a human rights charity perfectly combines my social justice and creative interests! My role is very varied: I edit reports, conduct research and write articles about freedom of expression-related topics, create visuals for social media, organise events, and coordinate outreach activities.
What are you most looking forward to in your role?
I am most excited about writing articles concerning freedom of expression issues. It will be a great opportunity to learn more about the journalists that our Legal Team defends before the European Court of Human Rights and other courts. Currently, I am in the process of writing an article about the use of invasive digital spyware – such as Pegasus – against journalists, and what this means for freedom of expression. Additionally, I am looking forward to the challenge of creating new visuals, such as illustrations, infographics, and videos, in order to expand our reach.
What attracted you to Media Defence?
Media Defence attracted me because of its very targeted area of work: giving legal help to journalists. I also like the various tactics that Media Defence uses to tackle freedom of expression issues amongst journalists. For example, Media Defence provides emergency legal defence, but it also takes on strategic litigation cases with the aim of setting international legal precedent. In addition, Media Defence trains lawyers and gives financial assistance to legal organisations that help journalists. Media Defence’s work is thus very varied within a targeted field.
Why is Freedom of Expression important to you?
I am particularly interested in freedom of artistic expression. Arts journalism – be it in the form of documentary film, political cartoons, or conflict photography – plays a paramount role in telling the stories of revolutions and social movements, but also of wars and corruption. Authoritarian governments are afraid of freedom of creative expression. This is because creative expressions generate alternative narratives that cannot be refuted. As a result, governments suffocate journalists, artists, and filmmakers. Along with independent written journalism, creative expression is essential for public interest reporting. Without the right to free creativity there is no free expression, and without free expression there is no democracy.
What Media Defence case has inspired you?
Media Defence’s involvement in Gulnara Mehdiyeva’s case. Gulnara Mehdiyeva is an activist and journalist reporting on LGBTQ+ and women’s rights issues in Azerbaijan. She was subject to a serious cyberattack after playing a role in organising an international women’s day march in 2020. Despite Gulnara Mehdiyeva’s repeated requests to investigate the cyberattack, the authorities refused to do so. In May 2021, Media Defence filed an application to the European Court of Human Rights on Gulnara Mehdiyeva’s behalf. Read more about the case here.
We are really excited to welcome Julie Reintjes to the team, and thank her for her time. If you would like to learn more about our team, you can read interviews with Hanna Uihlein here, Laura McCartan here, and Olga Grygorovska here.
Media Defence is recruiting! You can check our current job opportunities here.
If you are also inspired by our work, take a look at how you can get involved here.
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