EFJ Conference Calls on EU to Act on Crisis for Media and Journalism

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

disappearing.

 

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

from Cristian

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

journalism".

 

Responding to

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

Jean-Marie Cavada.

 

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