The European Federation of Journalists, the regional group of the International Federation of Journalists, today condemned plans for a European Union directive over insider dealing which could lead to the prosecution of financial journalists.
"The watchdog role of media is essential in reporting the world of finance," said Gustl Glattfelder, Chairman of the EFJ, "but this new law threatens journalistic inquiry into a whole range of business activities."
The European Commission's Internal Market directorate is proposing a directive on insider dealing and market manipulation. The European Federation of Journalists says it could expose financial journalists to the threat of criminal proceedings for their reporting of financial news and capital markets.
"The current text would criminalise editorial mistakes and prevent financial journalists doing their job", said Gustl Glattfelder, "It must be changed and the implicit threat to press freedom removed."
Journalists are always uneasy, he said, when laws are introduced that circumvent long established regimes for media self-regulation. He said that a proposal to establish a "central censorship" authority dealing with manipulation of financial service markets was unacceptable if it tried to interfere with the legitimate journalism.
The EFJ is seeking an exemption within the directive for journalists and media organisations. Self-regulation is the key to quality and reliability in journalism says the EFJ and EU policy makers should encourage media professional groups to put in place effective structures that will deal with the possibility of journalists misleading the market with false information.
"Market abuse needs to be dealt with," said Gustl Glattfelder, "But it cannot be that journalists and the media should become victims of Europe Union ambitions to secure the integrity of financial markets." The EFJ has written to the European Parliament seeking amendments to the draft directive and is also calling for more public debate on the measure.