Journalists Condemn European Commission for "Neglect and Self-interest" in Face of Media Crisis

The European Federation of Journalists which was meeting this weekend in Varna, Bulgaria to discuss the economic and professional crisis that is threatening to overwhelm traditional media in Europe has condemned the European Commission and its President Jose-Manuel Barroso for fostering a culture of "self-interest and neglect" in its treatment of media.

The EFJ, Europe's largest journalists' group, says the Commission has shown little interest in confronting the potential crisis for information pluralism and democracy in Europe as newspapers and audiovisual groups - including public broadcasters - struggle to cope with an unprecedented firestorm of problems which has seen tens of thousands of media staff put out of work and brought hundreds of media outlets to the brink of closure.

"The traditional structure of information pluralism upon which democracy in Europe depends is on the verge of collapse," said Aidan White, EFJ General Secretary. "Yet European Commission leaders remain aloof. They are not even willing to meet seriously with journalists' leaders to discuss the crisis."

The EFJ, which has held meetings with leaders of the major political parties in the European Parliament over the media crisis, says that groups of every political colour have agreed that the role of the media and the future of media must be placed at the centre of concerns for the new Parliament which will be elected next month.

"But the Commission remains unable, or unwilling, to meet journalists or even to reply to our letters about this worrying situation," said White. He says journalists' leaders are dismayed that while the President of the European Commission Barroso opened his door in recent months to meet with publishers and owners of media, Commission officials have not even managed to reply to a letter sent by the EFJ calling for an urgent meeting seven weeks ago.

"It is impossible not to conclude that this indifference shows how the Commission has become obsessed with its own communications strategy and its own image rather than confronting the reality of crisis in media," said White. "It is symptomatic of the culture of self-interest, neglect and complacency surrounding the Commission attitude to media."