Challenges to European Journalists: press freedom, new revenue models, public support?

Posted by Christophe Leclercq on 24/12/13

The Association of European Journalists (AEJ) organised its 51st Congress at the Brussels Press Club on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 November.  The congress included panels on press freedom and on new revenue models, out of which the following informal notes were taken by a colleague of mine.

The AEJ Assembly held on Saturday covered a number of topics including changes to its statutes and motions on government interference. Based on the Friday session, a draft motion was prepared on ‘Public support for independent media coverage of EU policies’. As it was quite detailed, it was not voted on and is only being discussed at this stage: it was agreed to send it to all members and to seek their reactions and follow-up ideas by the end of December. It has been circulated again to the membership just before this post was published.

There was much press reporting on the end of Preseurop.eu. Notably an article by Mediapart (paying access), including a written interview with me (copied in this separate post here)

@LeclercqEU

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51th AEJ congress, informal notes, extracts, no official record

First Panel on Media Freedom

For a safe and enabling environment for journalism

 

Monitoring

Justice

 

Ides Debruyne

Difference between media and journalism

How to defend either is different

Journalism is a public good

 

Study of investigative journalism in 8 EU member states

Call from journalists and officials for uniformity in data collection around freedom of information law

 

Grandma check on transparency and finance: who’s got what money

 

Find presentation online: …

 

Jean-Paul Marthoz

Thanks to E Snowden, we know what is going on in US intelligence. But I’d like to know what’s happening in France, Germany, …

 

A free press is essential

 

William Horsley: Is there going to be a reform of government oversight, or is it too late?


Jean-Paul Marthoz: some pressure to reform is growing, but will it be possible to technically implement. Is the NSA saying what they are doing? Growing beyond control, even of the NSA?

 

Is the Council of Europe able to give (media) guidelines for Europe?

 

A number of country section representatives mentioned national press freedom issues

 

Ukraine: several issues

 

Portugal: In an economic crisis, freedom of media becomes a big issue

Azerbaijan: situation in Europe may not be good, but in Azerbaijan it is much much worse

 

Problem: UK & Ukraine : if you want to preach media freedom, make sure your home situation is in order

 

Great idea, great principles, not enough actions, the problem is implementation

 

The initiative should be with civil society

 

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Second Panel on The Future of Media and Media Funding

Improving Support for High-quality Journalism

 

The future of media and media funding

 

In uk : 1/3 of journalism jobs disappeared in 2007/2008

 

Problem with quality of well, increasingly pr inspired coverage

 

Talking heads are replacing news packages

Media are getting simplistic, sensational, … Are replacing political news, analysis,

 

Saving the media means saving democracy

 

Jan 2013 EU high level group on media freedom (led by former Latvian president )

States should intervene whenever there is a threat to media quality

 

Money should follow the words

 

Neelie Kroes: When it comes to safeguarding a free and pluralistic media sector …

 

Answer by Andrzej Krawelski :

Start funding media, not only when they a positive about you (only positive stories get prizes)

Do inside what you preach outside (Montenegro media foundation ~ linked to government)

Application from both private and public media should be admitted

 

EU policy for filmmaking exists, cofunding by EU 2bio€ national tax contributions 1bio€. Where is the co-funding for actual media?

 

Politicians should not set up new media

We need to get money to support existing media to support democracy

 

Mixed forms of financing

We need quality journalism in the digital age, just for the same reason that elections are supported/funded

 

 

Wilfried Rutten (European Journalism Centre)

 

Give money to individual journalists, not to media houses

Funding of media houses <> funding of media houses


Gates foundation:

good model, no interference, take the money and run yourself

Grants are usually 20.000, all big newspapers are interested in this, 800 applications

[ Transparency: EurActiv Foundation and network also benefiting, for these development sections].

 

Systemic media

If you see that any bank that could make itself systemic, they got 10 bio euro to keep them going. Media are systemic in a democracy and should receive money as well

 

Pleads for a European register of ownership of media

 

Embrace social media and what they can do for journalists

 

Sixtine Bouygues (European Commission)

Pleads for Euronews: European angles to stories

Radio network

For journalists: access to studios, EBS, archives, seminars 30-50/year four journalists

Centre for media pluralism & freedom of expression in Florence

What has changed: the crisis, digitalisation of media => overhaul of media/journalism

Our budget has been reduced by 1/4 overall, media budget cut by 1/3

Netto : “Do better with less”

We have made a lot of efforts to reduce expenses for communication

Eliminating all visual identities 500 to 1, rationalisation of Europa website, reduce number of pages, new architecture

=> Expected to save around 12 mio € per year

Regarding PressEurope : “What would not have been responsible is to engage in a process with a contractor () and in the end have to terminate the contract because the money is not there.’

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Christophe Leclercq (EurActiv)  (presentation upon request, see also motion discussed the next day)

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Eric Maurice (PressEurop)

 

Essential link between media, journalism and democracy

Information knowledge and consciousness: stronger democracy

This was the basis of Presseurop

Only use independent sources, by professionals

(Deloitte) evaluation: Presseurop was good value for money, he says

 

“Everyone would benefit from such a dialogue that Ch Leclercq suggested”

 

Nicola Frank EBU

Lack of funding should not have any influence of the independence of journalism

License fees are the most important way of funding public broadcasters in Europe

In the past different media were competing in their own niche

 

Broadcasters with broadcasters, written press with written press, …

Now everything is coming together

You need pluralism and independence in all eu policies

What is the impact of this policy on media pluralism and freedom?

Influence on eu in accession / neighbourhood process on public broadcasters in becoming independent actor

 

Katharine Sarikakis (Media governance professor from Vienna)

on Greek State Broadcaster (ERT) situation

Pretext..

The crisis is not necessary the reason to close ERT

ERT was making a nice profit, offered to the government for social works

The budget was turned into the black during the crisis

 

Is something works, don’t try to fix it

What are the opportunity costs of taking away public assets

 

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Turkish journalist

Study in Turkish media ownership by T24

Small independent media, by journalists themselves, online

 

 

Debate with Participants

Christophe Leclercq: see motion on working group regarding public support to independent media coverage of EU policies

 

William Horsley: What is the political framework in which EU could give money to the media?

 

Sixtine Bouygues: This is an ongoing discussion, a report has to be written. Funds for investigative journalism case proved this. Very ambiguous and very difficult to settle. For the moment only what is possible is in place. Discussion is every complex

 

The Commission is in favour of independence of journalism

 

The case of presseurop

We have not received any complaints for 5 years about the independence of press europe

 

Maybe the wording of the new call was not right. So many complaints about the process from API, from other potential applicants, from AEJ. So we decided to pull the call.

 

Andrzej Krajewski

I expected more criticism.

At stake is democracy, at stake is media pluralism

“I hope this is the beginning of the discussion”

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Christophe Leclercq, media entrepreneur, founded EurActiv. Former EU competition official and McKinsey strategy consultant. @LeclercqEU speaks in EN, FR, DE about public affairs, EU comms & languages. more.



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