A conference organised by
the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) at the European Parliament has
demanded fresh action from European political leaders to confront the media
crisis that is overwhelming journalism across the region.
"Journalism is a public
good upon which democracy in Europe depends,"
said Aidan White, the General
Secretary of the EFJ, who also moderated the event. "Yet we see complacency
from politicians and a Brussels
fixation with market rules rather than citizens' rights as the media industry
faces up to the challenges of massive change."
The meeting of
journalists' leaders, industry representatives and political leaders called for
a new relationship between the state and media to find ways of stabilising and
supporting European journalism without compromising the political independence
of media and editorial freedom of journalists.
The conference on the
future of journalism was hosted in Brussels at
the European Parliament and heard that thousands of journalists and media staff
across Europe were being thrown out of work, titles were closing down and media
were in turmoil in the face of market changes which undermined Europe's dual system of private and public media.
Speakers called for urgent
action to address the crisis and to ensure that media pluralism and high
quality journalism remains in place within the European Union.
Jean-Paul Marthoz, a senior Belgian journalist, explained that
quality journalism is needed more than ever and Jeremy
Dear, the General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists of the UK,
called for more public support as local and regional newspapers are
Chris Elliot, the Managing Editor of The Guardian gave examples of how
traditional media and communication technologies can be combined to enhance
quality journalism, but said that there were few examples of media markets
emerging that could match the money-making ventures of the past.
Verena Wiedemann, the Secretary General of German Public
Broadcaster ARD, called for rules on media concentration, fresh support for
public service media and an open debate on how to balance the needs for
copyright protection with free flow of information. A view from East Europe came
Unteanu, representing the Romanian Realitatea TV, who said that the media situation in Romania and other countries was just as
troubling as the crisis overtaking countries in the west of Europe.
The calls for
action were also supported by members of the European Parliament. "The European
Union is committed to press freedom", said MEP Tanja Fajon in her introductory
speech, "but we have to find new ways of preserving citizens' access to quality
White's complaint of complacency on the part of European Union institutions in
his closing remarks, MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis said: "the European Parliament is
no longer the friend of the Commission when it says that nothing can be done
about the media. Things will change". Both
MEPs are vice-Chairs of the new Parliamentary media Intergroup, chaired by
The EFJ welcomes
the creation of this Intergroup, and together with other professional
organisations, it is confident that it will help creating a solid debate and
sound reflection on media policies in the current months.
For more information contact the EFJ at
+32 2 235 2215
The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists
in over 30 European countries