European Journalists Outline Quality Strategies to Resolve Media Crisis

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

region.

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

open."

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.

The continental

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

government.

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.

Importantly, the

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

journalism.

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:
http://europe.ifj.org/assets/docs/053/242/180d435-eb81df2.pdf

 

For more information contact the EFJ

at   +32 2 235 2202

The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists

in 30 countries