Journalists Must Build Bridges With Civil Society to Defend Media Quality says IFJ

The crisis of globalisation in media which threatens standards of journalism and democracy needs to be confronted by a coalition of media people and civil society, delegates to the world’s largest meeting of journalists’ groups was told yesterday.

The International Federation of Journalists Congress meeting in Athens debated the increasing global concentration of media and attacks on public service values in media – particularly broadcasting – and called for a return to core principles of the profession in a global economy, based upon quality, independence and public service values.

The debate on globalisation was led by John Nichols from The Nation in the United States, who outlined a profound crisis for journalism within the US which he warned could spread to other regions of the world. He called for journalists’ organisations to build up coalitions with civil society groups in order to confront the media concentration process.

Another key speaker Jean Reveillon, General Secretary of the European Broadcasting Union, called for more efforts to defend public service broadcasting, especially in countries that had a strong public broadcasting culture and where it is currently threatened. Other speakers insisted on the necessity to support journalists’ unions in transition countries and to protect journalists’ sources and liberties. Guillaume Chenevière, the Director of the Media and Society Foundation, added that it was essential to set-up clear objectives of quality in media companies and presented a new international quality standard for broadcasters.

“Journalists are the watchdogs of democracy in a world where global conglomerates and governments are trying to control information,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “The BBC went through a crisis after the Hutton report, and at the same time journalists see their social rights attacked by media giants who consider information only as a marketable product sold and made available for the defence of particular interests. Both the profession and the public deserve better and more independent journalism”.