EFJ Calls for Bulgarian Journalists to Lead Debate over Future of Media

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) this week called for

a national debate in Bulgaria on the future of journalism as a public good

in a bid to confront the growing threat of monopolisation and political

manipulation of the country's media.

Speaking at a conference on threats to press freedom in Sofia

yesterday Aidan White, EFJ General Secretary, said that the crisis in

journalism, which has seen job losses and attacks on standards across all

media, could only be tackled by a new public debate led by journalists and

involving editors, owners and civil society.

"It's time for a new approach," he told the meeting attended

by journalists and politicians from the European Parliament Socialist and

Democrats Group. "Journalism as a public good is in the service

of all of us, so there must be a wide-ranging and inclusive public discussion

about all aspects of the crisis."

He said that issues to be discussed included new rules regarding media

ownership, accreditation of journalists, self-regulation, legal protections for

journalists including labour rights. He also called for a new

solidarity among journalists, editors and media owners to isolate those in

business and politics who are guilty of undue influence.

"It's not enough to leave media in the hands of corporate and

political big-shots who only want to use journalism in their own

interests," he said, referring to the lack of transparency over who owns

media in the country. "Journalists must stick together and work with

social partners who respect professional values to offer an alternative

vision for media."

White met with the EFJ affiliate the Bulgarian Journalists' Union and

with management of two main dailies -- 24 Hours and Trud. "There is

an opportunity to set a new agenda if the journalists' union and the media

employers union are ready to work together to launch a new debate and

to promote social dialogue," he said.

He welcomed the pledge from the leadership of the socialist party in

Bulgaria at the meeting to call another meeting -- open to all -- at which the

media situation will be further discussed. "This is a start and we hope it

will lead to a better partnership that will deliver good journalism and rights

for Bulgaria's journalists who are currently under severe pressure," he

said.

For more information contact the EFJ at + 32 2

235 2202 

The EFJ represents over

250,000 journalists in 34 countries across Europe