European Journalists Target European Union Over Media Policy

Journalists leaders from across Europe have targeted a crisis over media quality, communications problems with the European Union, rights of freelance journalists and the future of journalism as campaign issues for the coming year.

The European Federation of Journalists annual meeting in Bled, Slovenia, brought together almost 100 representatives of some 30 countries. Delegates agreed to a number of urgent actions to confront the media crisis in Europe including to

Vigorously oppose a new communications strategy from the European Union which they fear is an attempt to undermine traditional reporting of the EU and to seek more transparency in financial relations with media;

Challenge private and political forces threatening to undermine the long-established European model of public broadcasting and to ensure further support through the revision of the Television Without Frontiers Directive;

Campaign at national level for exemption clauses that will protect journalists from the impact of the newly-adopted EU directive on data retention;

Launch a new ethical journalism initiative aiming to reinforce editorial independence for journalists as part of a wider campaign to improve quality in journalism; and

Support strongly the defence of freelance rights which were highlighted in a special freelance charter unanimously adopted at the meeting.

The meeting, hosted by the Slovenian Journalists Union and the Slovenian Association of Journalists, also focused on problems for journalists in many of the former socialist countries and special resolutions expressing solidarity were adopted concerning Slovenia, Belarus, and Bulgaria.

Two other important initiatives at the meeting were agreed:

• The launch of a toolkit on media portrayal of women in politics, concluding a European union-sponsored project that aims to confront problems of gender discrimination in news media coverage of women in political life; and

• The adoption of a plan to organise a network of journalists’ unions from new member countries of the EU and other countries from the former socialist and Soviet states to confront continuing problems over media freedom and ownership rights.

“The challenges we in journalism face are clear,” said Arne Konig, Chair of the EFJ after the meeting. “But our problems are made worse when politicians fail to grasp the importance of media to democracy and our proprietors fail to understand the importance of quality. We have to change these attitudes.”

For further information contact the EFJ at +32 2 235 22 00

The EFJ represents over 260,000 journalists in more than 30 countries