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
For more information contact the EFJ at + 32 2
The EFJ represents over
250,000 journalists in 34 countries across Europe