The Maison des journalistes is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting journalists who have been forced to flee their countries because of persecution relating to their line of work. A physical refuge located in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, the Maison des journalists offers these courageous journalists a temporary home and the help they need to rebuild their lives.
The first role of the organization is to recognize these individuals and the sacrifices they have made in the name of press freedom and human rights. We work to ensure that they are not forgotten or left to their own devices upon arrival in a foreign country, whose language many of our residents do not speak. This diverse group of men and women come to the Maison des journalistes during a particularly difficult time in their lives and many are dealing with serious physical and psychological scars.
The MDJ is located in a converted former brush factory provided to us by the City of Paris. The building houses 14 bedrooms on three floors and includes two handicap accessible rooms.
The Maison des journalistes provides a safe and welcoming environment where men and women from diverse backgrounds can meet and make their voices heard. Despite differences in background, language, religion and politics, these journalists all share a similar passion for their work and the all too painful experience of repression and exile.
In 2014, 31 journalists from 14 countries were welcomed by the MDJ. Syria, Guinea Conakry and the Ivory Coast are at the top in terms of purveyors of exiled journalists.
Housing, Meals and Transportation
The journalists are housed free of charge for a period of six months. Each resident has an individual room and access to common spaces such as the kitchen and a work room where they can connect to the internet. The security of the residents is very important and so the building has been secured with a door code and a caretaker is present at night. The MDJ provides its residents with daily meal vouchers and a monthly transportation pass.
Administrative, Legal and Social Assistance
Administrative, legal and social assistance provided by the MDJ helps the journalists navigate the complexities of the French legal system when applying for political asylum and obtain housing and health care coverage by the end of their six month stay here.
French Language Classes
75 percent of the journalists we house come from non-francophone countries. The MDJ offers a French language class several times a week.
Thanks to the partnership with many Schools of Journalism – Sciences Po, Lille ESJ, Montpellier ESJ, the MDJ allowed several refugee journalists to adapt and advance their journalistic skills to get a french diploma for presenting themselves well-equipped in the national media market.
Some of our Activities
Working together with our current and former residents, the Maison des journalistes actively organizes and participates in events and initiatives designed to highlight awareness of threats to freedom of the press and democracy around the globe. We also promote the artistic and cultural talents of our residents through exhibitions of their photography and political cartoons.
In 2011, two former residents from Bangladesh and Kirghizstan held exhibitions of their photography here at the MDJ. That same year an Iranian political cartoonist and former resident, worked together with the MDJ to organize an exhibition of political cartoons dealing with the theme of exile. The result was L’exil, an exhibition which showcased political cartoons by 40 talented international cartoonists.
Renvoyé Spécial is a unique program aimed at raising awareness of issues relating to freedom of the press and defense of democracy. Started in 2006, it is organized by the Maison des journalistes in conjunction with the CLEMI (Ministry of Education) and made possible by the financial support of Presstalis. Through the Renvoyé Spécial program, exiled journalists are able to meet with high school students across France and share their personal stories and experiences working as journalists in their countries of origin. Highly informative and often emotionally charged, these meetings allow students to learn firsthand about threats to freedom of expression and democracy. It also an opportunity for students to engage with these brave men and women and to better understand the realities of life in exile. Since its creation, 6 000 students from across the country have participated in Renvoyé Spécial and the program continues to enjoy an immense popularity amongst teachers and students.
The Maison des journalistes has launched this innovative project, Presse 19 ; thus called in reference to article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948): “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Presse 19 is a socio-educational project conceived by the Maison des journalistes (MDJ) and carried out in partnership with a number of international organizations. The goal of this project is to sensitize youth to increasingly relevant issues surrounding liberty of expression, pluralism in the media, professional ethics, and civilian involvement based on spirited discussions with professionals of the press forced into exile for having wanted to practice free press. The project also allows the youth to discover different journalistic practices throughout the world as well as other sociocultural realities, thus enriching their paths in life. Presse 19 also presents an opportunity for students to speak with these journalists in order to better understand the realities of exile and their experience as political refugees in Europe, as well as the conditions of exercising their profession in their home countries.
Since its founding in 2002, the Maison des journalistes has housed over 300 journalists from 57 countries. In 2014, we welcomed0 31 journalists representing 14 different nationalities. Syria and Iran currently top the list of nationalities.
The Maison des journalistes’ work is made possible by the solidarity of the French media and the financial support of the City of Paris and the European Union Fund for Refugees. Each of our 14 bedrooms is sponsored by a different French media organization which bears its name. We also depend on our partners at the Caffè dei Giornalisti in Italy, the Fondation ManPowerGroup pour l’emploi (since 2012), la Scam (since 2010) and Presstalis (since 2006) for financial support.
» The City of Paris : A Privileged Sponsor
The Paris City Council has graciously provided the Maison des journalistes with its current location in a renovated 750 m² former brush factory.
Journalists from news organizations across the globe regularly visit the Maison des journalistes and report on the work of this unique organization. Several dozen articles and radio/television reports on the MDJ have been produced in countries from Canada to Japan. Several Master’s theses and Doctoral dissertations have also focused on the Maison des journalistes.
Please help support us in our mission to assist the men and women of the Maison des journalistes who have had to flee their countries leaving behind family, friends and colleagues.
Your tax deductable donation, whether large or small, will go a long way towards helping these brave journalists rebuild their lives.