In the past years, press freedom has been facing increasing threats, ranging from damaging media laws in Hungary, killing of journalists in Russia, jailing of journalists in Turkey to austerity measures that led to the closures of independent and public service media in a number of European countries.
With this in mind, the EFJâ€™s core agenda for the New Year will be to restore press freedom and ensure the protection of the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression. Being a strong journalistsâ€™ organisation in Europe, we can use our power and unity to fight back the threats to journalism and make 2014 a turning point in the battle.
In terms of media policy, we must influence European institutions on the need to create policies favouring media pluralism and show the way for how media support from the EU can play a serious role while applying the armâ€™s length principle on editorial policy.
Without a diverse and high-quality media landscape, our democracy will suffer. It is a mission for all journalistsâ€™ unions and associations to maintain media pluralism and quailty in the media. To do so, we need to feed our governments and parliamentarians with arguments for a sustainable environment where high quality journalism and pluralism can thrive.
At the same time, we should emphasise the need of a strong policy, where media are not controlled by governments or politicians, where media laws limiting press freedom are removed, where protection of sources are not hampered by surveillance measures and where self-regulation can ensure ethical practices in our profession.
Last but not least, we must urge our governments to put pressure on the authorities in countries, where impunity still takes place. We must demand them to stop jailing and killing journalists. Journalists must be given the freedom and respect to carry out their duty for investigative journalism and to produce high quality journalism.
We, as a journalistsâ€™ organisation, will become stronger in 2014. We can do so through capacity building, recruitment, influencing the European institutions and cooperations with unions and like-mind organisations across Europe. These are our most invaluable tools.
Together we can make a difference.
Mogens Blicher BjerregÃ¥rd
EFJ Sets for Annual Meeting 2014
(5.12.2013) The EFJ Steering Committee has confirmed 6 and 7 June for the next Annual Meeting in its recent meeting in Brussels. Precise schedule and location will be confirmed in the coming weeks and communicated to all EFJ affiliates.
During the meeting, the Committee also formally endorsed two new memberships: the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine and the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine. Both organisations are currently doing a tremendous work for journalists covering the mass demonstrations in the country.
In addition, the Committee endorsed a regional development fund to support journalistsâ€™ unions in the Baltic states and some of the Eastern European countries in 2014.
While discussions on the working programme for 2014-2016 took place during the meeting, the Committee decided to include the issues on self-censorship and court cases against journalists in its working programme.
New Year Appeal 2014
Set Journalists Free in Turkey
(20.12.2013) The EFJ has made a New Year Appeal for the release of 60 journalists currently imprisoned in Turkey. In a letter addressed by the EFJ President, Mogens Blicher BjerregÃ¥rd has called on the support of journalists' unions and the public to sign the petition calling on the Prime Minister of Turkey to release the jailed journalists.
Family members and colleagues of the imprisoned journalists have also taken the opportunity to send the New Year wishes to their loved ones who will spend the New Year in the prison. (read the message)
(9.12.2013) The EFJ and its international group, IFJ, have strongly condemned the brutal attacks by Ukrainian security forces against journalists covering the mass protests in Kiev. While the EFJ has called on the authorities to investigate the attacks, the Independent Media Trade-Union of Ukraine (IMTUU) and the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), have offered their solidarity and support to all media workers to counter the attacks.
Meanwhile on 9 December, Three Kiev-based opposition news agencies were raided by unidentified armed individuals reportedly dressed like members of Ukraine's Special Forces. According to media reports, raids took place at 6pm on the offices of the newspaper Vechirni Visti, the online TV station INTV and the news website Cenzor.net, at the same time that riot police started to disperse those people involved in anti-government demonstrations.(read more)
(15.12.2013) Families and journalists (in pictures) have gathered at the Journalists Club of the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) in Moscow commemorating the death of over 300 journalists who died because of their profession. Established by the RUJ, the Memorial Day on 15 December is considered as the most important date for Russian journalists who will show their solidarity with fellow colleagues and commitment in the profession. (photo credit: RUJ)
EFJ Tells Belarus to Lift Ban on Freelance Journalists
The EFJ has sent a letter of appeal to the government of Belarus against the provision in the media law that forbids freelance journalists from practicing journalism in the country. According to the Mass Media Law in Belarus, freelance journalists are banned from reporting in the country. The law only recognises employed journalists working for major media organisations in Belarus. Foreign journalists who are working in Belarus on assignment can also get press accreditations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus. (read more)
(10.12.2013) Dutch journalist, Judith Spiegel, was finally released after being abduted in Yemen's capital city Sana'a in June this year by a group of gunmen. The EFJ has welcomed her release and commended its Dutch affiliate, the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ), for its tireless work and commitment in helping secure her freedom. (read more)
New Code of Ethics
(11.12.2013) The Belgian Council of Journalistic Ethics has introduced a new general code of journalism ethics updating the existing code that was adopted in 1971. The new code includes one of the basic texts on the Declaration of Rights and Duties of Journalists which was adopted in November 1971 in Munich, and subsequently endorsed by the International Federation of Journalists the following year at the Istanbul Congress. The new code is based on the jurisprudence of the Belgian Council of Journalism Ethics, which is the self-regulatory body of French and German speaking media in Belgium. It was created in 2009 to deal with complaints relating to the conduct of journalists. The new code also includes a section on online media.
Romania to Criminalise Defamation
(13.12.2013) The EFJ has expressed deep concerns about the recently adopted legislative amendments re-criminalising defamation in Romania, and appealed to Romanian authorities to do everything in their power to prevent it becoming law. (read more)
Greek Journalists Attacked by â€˜Golden Dawnâ€™ Members
(11.12.2013) Panagiotis Bousis, a TV journalist working for the Greek broadcaster STAR was reported being attacked by members of the extreme right party, Golden Dawn. According to EFJ affiliate, the Journalists' Union of the Athens Daily Newspapers (JUADN), STAR TV journalist Panagiotis Bousis was covering a Golden Dawn event on Monday evening, 9 December, in the Iraklion suburb of Athens when party members attacked him, beating him around the head. The cameraman recording the event for STAR TV was also physically abused and media coverage was prohibited from taking place. The EFJ has condemned the attack and called on authorities to protect the safety and rights of journalists. (read more)
Appeal: Release Journalists Abducted in Syria
(10.12.2013) The EFJ and IFJ have appealed for the immediate release of two Spanish journalists who have been held in Syria for nearly four months. According to media reports, Javier Espinosa, the special correspondent on the Syria conflict for the Spanish daily El Mundo, and Ricardo G. Vilanova, a freelance photojournalist, are being held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). (read more)
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Final Moves on Media Policy before 2014 European Elections
(10.12.2013) Towards the end of this year, a number of interesting initiatives from the European Commission and the Council of Ministers were being rolled out. On 26 November, the Council of the Ministers of Culture has adopted a series of conclusions on media freedom and pluralism in the digital environment. For the first time in the history of the European Union, representatives of the Member States have jointly noted the importance of media freedom and common principles such as transparency of media ownership and protection of journalistic sources.
Meanwhile, the Commission has proceeded to the next stage of a call for tender to create a â€œEuropean Center for Press and Media Freedomâ€. According to the selected project proposals, the Commission will create an international network of media lawyers and a European Index on censorship, as well as programmes to improve libel laws and the press freedom situation in 10 Balkan states.
On 4 December, an EFJ delegation met with the EU Commissioner for digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, who showed a great interest on the issues of authors' rights and unfair contracts given to journalists. The EFJ expressed its concerns that EU media policies are currently split between different departments within the European Commission. To support a coherent approach to address various media issues such as pluralism, freedom of expression and authors' rights, the EFJ will introduce a specific â€œManifestoâ€ next year before the European elections.
Commission Launches Consultation to Modernise Copyright
(5.12.2013) The European Commission has launched a public consultation aiming to keep EU copyright policy relevant. The Commissioner in charge, Mr Michel Barnier, said that the consultation aims to modernise EU copyright policy and make it effective. It also looks at the remuneration of authors and performers. The EFJ will respond to the consultation before the deadline on 5 February 2014. (Read more)
Nadia Azhgikhina has spoken (watch interview below) about the role of EFJ in improving gender equality in journalism within the unions. The two-day forum aims to gathers global experts in gender and media who will contribute to a draft framework of action to reduce gender disparities in and through the media. At the end of the two-day conference, UNESCO announced the launch of a Global Alliance on Media and Gender (in which the IFJ is a partner) and a draft framework of action.
Media professionals who want to improve their skills on diversity and inclusive reporting can now apply for a five-day exchange programme in an EU country. This opportunity is not exclusive to journalists, union officers, media educators, editors and journalism students can also apply.
You will be provided with a return ticket to a country where your exchange partner resides and â‚¬500 for living allowance during the course of your exchange.
The media exchanges represent a unique opportunity to share professional practices in the areas of media production, media and journalism training and journalism practice.