Journalists have launched a
European-wide campaign to confront a growing economic and professional crisis in
media which they say threatens to weaken democracy across the
The annual meeting of the
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), bringing together leaders of unions and
associations from 25 European countries, ended their meeting in Varna, Bulgaria
on 17 May with the adoption of a comprehensive declaration - Journalism in
the Vanguard of Change - and an appeal to candidates in the upcoming
elections to the European Parliament to give priority to the defence of quality
journalism in Europe.
In a stark warning
to policymakers, the EFJ states: "There is no longer any certainty that media
pluralism can be assured. The private sector is no longer able to guarantee the
provision of information services that have been central to preserving and
enhancing standards of democracy in Europe."
EFJ union leaders
say the panic-stricken owners of traditional media, hit by economic recession on
top of changing market structures caused by the development of the Internet and
"desperate to squeeze even more profits out of the sector" have imposed savage
and damaging cuts in jobs and editorial departments.
While welcoming the
potential of a new media landscape to create "more open, more engaged and more
informed communities," journalists' leaders say this will only happen if there
is protection for the professional, public purposes of journalism - to stimulate,
educate and inform public debate, and to call to account those who exercise
power in society. Quality journalism they say "provides the mechanism for
scrutiny and a check on corruption and it keeps societies
In response to the
crisis the EFJ is calling for new dialogues and alliances with governments and
civil society to defend public service values in media, to defend jobs and
working conditions, and to promote innovation in the industry. "Journalism and
media professionalism, which is the creative heart of European media, must be
protected, nourished and encouraged to develop," they say.
campaign of the EFJ will support actions to promote ethical journalism, to
eliminate precarious working conditions and to encourage more investment in
education and training - particularly in societies
striving to develop more open, pluralist and representative
They say multimedia
convergence requires new models of governance including the re-shaping of press
council and broadcast media councils and different forms of self-regulation.
"Existing structures are increasingly made obsolete by the realities of the
Internet," they say.
EFJ also says the crisis of media funding for the future requires a new vision
and new alliances with civil society and within the industry. Unions are calling
for a fresh public debate, at national and European level about the role of
media. In particular, they call for a European-wide media summit involving all
stakeholders and the development of proposals at national and European level for
urgent support for media.
But any form of
financial support must have strings attached to protect journalistic
independence and to ensure media promote quality. The EFJ says no support should
be given to media without obliging them to respect principles of editorial
independence, respect for labour standards and decent working conditions for
media staff, and oblige them to invest in quality
The EFJ says that
it will also organise another conference later this year in Brussels to take its arguments for change to European Union
leaders and to identify further actions to strengthen media in Europe.
Download the Varna Declaration:
For more information contact the EFJ
at +32 2 235 2202
The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists
in 30 countries