Journalists Welcome Backing of European Political Leaders in Bid to Confront Media Crisis

Leaders of Europe's political parties are uniting around a campaign launched by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) to place the economic, social and democratic crisis in media at the heart of European Union policymaking in the coming years.

After meetings with the leaders of the three largest party blocks in the European Parliament - the European Peoples' Party, the Socialist Group and the Liberal Alliance - the EFJ says that politicians are ready to confront the media crisis.

"When it comes to media there is no such thing as business as usual," said Aidan White, EFJ General Secretary. "Political leaders recognise it's time for radical action to help media meet the challenge of change and to support independent journalism across Europe."

The EFJ says the new European Parliament will back a Europe-wide debate on the future of media involving all stakeholders - civil society groups, media professionals, and  policymakers - in the search for solutions to a media crisis that threatens not only titles and jobs, but also pluralism and democracy. Parliament leaders also support the idea of a Report on media and to raise the issue of media policy among newly elected MEPs later in the year.

"The politicians we have talked to are alert to the dangers," said White. "They know that the media crisis goes far beyond the short-term turbulence of economic recession and they know that it's time for a change of direction in Europe, to go beyond concerns about the image of the European Union and to focus on the media contribution to Europe's democratic landscape."

In meetings with Mr Daul (EPP), Mr Watson (ALDE) and Mr Wiersma (PSE) on the eve of the elections, the EFJ has explained the full scope of the media crisis, which has seen a severe downturn in the traditional media markets accompanied by dramatic cuts in editorial budgets, job losses and weakening standards of journalism.

The migration of advertising revenues to the Internet and changing habits of consumers who increasingly turn to the Internet for their news and information mean that newspapers and prime time broadcasters have been hit hard.

The EFJ says that short-term measures - including public aid for traditional media through tax breaks and new forms of support - should be considered without interfering with editorial independence and without restraint by competition rules. "Media products are not just economic, they have a cultural and democratic value too," said White.

Beyond immediate help, the EFJ is also arguing for the creation of a European Union high level expert group to examine the crisis and to prepare fresh policy solutions and the holding of a special conference under the patronage of the Parliament and the European Commission to focus on the changing media landscape.

"Journalists are determined to fight for their independence and for quality," said White. "We welcome partnership with politicians and civil society in the fight for quality media that will work for democracy."  

The EFJ also asked to meet with Mr Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission.

For further information contact the EFJ on +32 2 235 2200
The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in over 30 countries in Europe