Tens of thousands of journalists are today carrying out a co-ordinated day of protest across Europe to highlight a dramatic media crisis over political pressure, falling standards and poor working conditions that is destroying quality journalism.
Media quality is under threat because of a crisis of investment and resources. Urgent action is needed to that staffing levels, workloads, resources and budgets are provided to enable journalists and all who work with them to continue producing quality media.
The Stand up for Journalism campaign highlights both a social and professional crisis in modern journalism.
The social crisis is seen in the precarious nature of journalistic work today. The scandal of low-pay and unprotected jobs is evident in every country where there are rising numbers of people forced out of regular, full-time employment into casual work with little or no social protection.
The professional crisis is seen in the consequences of cuts in editorial budgets that have compromised editorial standards, and eliminated the amount of time and research needed by journalists to do their work.
At the same time, editorial departments have become dominated by commercial imperatives that have blurred the distinction between journalism and marketing. Rampant commercialism is ripping the heart out of the mission of journalism.
Outside the newsroom, politicians and state authorities have increased pressure on media through an unprecedented assault on journalists’ rights – particularly through demands on journalists to reveal their sources of information.
There is more tapping of journalists’ telephones, more official interference in the work of media and less commitment to open government.
Today journalists’ unions and associations are calling for action, within journalism and media, to turn the tide of indifference and to rebuild public confidence in the importance of reliable, informed and professional journalism to democracy in Europe.
As quality falls people no longer trust media to defend their interests. Journalists are determined to reclaim the ethical virtues of our profession, to tell our employers that the cuts in jobs and standards have got to stop and to warn governments of the threat to democracy when they challenge journalists’ ethical rights.
The crisis in European journalism has reached a critical point. No-one can turn a blind eye to the urgent need to fight for decent jobs and to defend quality journalism.
By standing up for their rights journalists are also standing up for civil liberties and fundamental human rights. Today’s action is also an appeal to other workers, to every group in civil society, and to the political community at large. Stand with us and, together, we will reclaim the core values of democracy in Europe for all.