Dr. Karola Wille, head of the regional German public broadcaster MDR and a respected defender of press freedom and public-service broadcasting, is the new chair of the International Press Institute (IPI)’s German National Committee.

Wille was first elected to lead the Leipzig-based MDR (Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, or Central German Broadcasting) in 2011 and re-elected to a second six-year term in 2016. She previously served as MRD’s director of legal affairs. Between 2016 and 2017 Wille also served as the chairwoman of the ARD consortium of Germany’s regional public broadcasters.

“The global trend of questioning the importance of press and media freedom even in free democracies, of discrediting and threatening journalists and even of physically attacking them, is highly troubling”, Wille said. “The voice of organizations like IPI in warning us of these dangers is needed more than ever.”

IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi welcomed Wille’s new role as Committee chair.

“We’re immensely proud to welcome Karola Wille as the new head of our German National Committee, someone who has dedicated her career to defending the basic rights of the press”, Trionfi said. “As press freedom and independent journalism come under renewed pressure in Europe, the engagement of individuals such as Karola Wille is essential to protecting the values that underpin democratic society.”

National Committees are IPI’s representatives at the country level. Made up of IPI members, National Committees actively promote IPI’s goals and objectives in their respective countries and work with the IPI Secretariat in Vienna on issues affecting local media. In particular, they play a key role in monitoring threats to media freedom or the free flow of news. National Committees may also organize events and activities with and for their members.

Willes was elected German National Committee chair at a meeting of the Committee last July. She takes over from Carl-Eugen Eberle, the former director of legal affairs for Germany’s ZDF public broadcaster.