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11 March 2014


We Must Challenge Ourselves

We have a decision to make when leaders of journalists’ unions and associations in Europe gather in Vienna on 19 – 20 March to discuss how to confront austerity in journalism. We can either surrender or rise to the challenge by confronting austerity with new ideas and unity. I believe the latter is the way forward. 

We and all European citizens need high-quality journalism from a diverse source. However, we have seen the impact austerity has had on journalism in the past five years – journalists face more precarity and the emergence of new technologies has changed the way we do journalism. Nevertheless, we can defeat these challenges by challenging ourselves.

Independent journalism is a cornerstone of democracy. It is not only up to national governments and media owners to uphold it, we as journalists have a duty to fulfil our role. We have a key role to play by creating a foundation in which pluralism in media and decent working conditions exist. Only with this foundation can we re-build the trust and quality in journalism that we once were proud of.

At the Vienna conference, we will focus the discussion on how to achieve these goals. The future of journalism can benefit from a new generation of journalists who embrace new technologies and new ways of thinking and undertaking journalism. We must find new opportunities and use them to our advantage to counter the ‘threats’ that are in front of us.

It is our ambition to be the driving force of the future of journalism – bringing new ideas in financing and doing journalism, strengthening journalists’ unions and recruiting young members who will be the future leaders of our unions.

Last but not least, we must service our freelancers and provide support to help them flourish. Innovation in journalism goes hand in hand with new business models. Freelancers should be the driving force of the new business models that help create more jobs, more flexibility and more security in the future of journalism.
Mogens Blicher Bjerregård
EFJ President

Over 160 journalists have been injured since the beginning of Ukraine's political crisis in November 2013, while journalist, Vyacheslaqv Vereymi, died after being brutally attacked in February. Attacks on foreign journalists have also been recorded, including the recent attack on the Greek correspondent Kostas Onisenko on 9 March.

On 19 February, the IFJ and EFJ launched an International Partnership Mission with press freedom and media organisations to Ukraine to investigate the attacks on journalists and to provide support to the journalists’ unions in the country (NUJU and IMTUU). Following the mission, a series of recommendations was made to international and European institutions to guarantee the safety of journalists. Safety guidelines have also been issued to journalists who are reporting in the country. Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, the EFJ President, has given a detailed description of the reality facing journalists and the people in Ukraine (see below feature article).

The IFJ and EFJ have also called on journalists who are reporting on the political crisis in Ukraine to maintain professional standards and ethics in journalism by avoiding biased reporting that will intensify the crisis.

Meanwhile, the IFJ/EFJ will hold a meeting in Brussels on 17 March bringing representatives of the unions in Ukraine and Russia together to discuss ways to further the existing cooperation between the unions. Unions in neighbouring countries have also expressed solidarity with journalists in Ukraine. The Polish Journalists’ Association is fund-raising for Ukrainian journalists who require medical treatment, legal advice and protection equipment.

What is happening on the ground in Ukraine?

''It is chaotic. People were running everywhere. Some were carrying the wounded to the ambulance and the field hospital that had been set up in the cafe outside the hotel ... the next sight we met was three cold corpses - an image that never be forgotten.''

This is the vivid description by the EFJ President, Mogens Blicher BjerregÃ¥rd, who visited Ukraine on 19 and 20 February in an International Partnership Mission. In this feature article, Blicher BjerregÃ¥rd has described the conditions facing both journalists and civilians as being like an inferno in Ukraine. (Read more)

Confronting Austerity in Journalism

If you are not able to attend the EFJ seminar on Confronting Austerity in Journalism in Vienna, you can follow and participate in our debate on social media. Please tweet in your comments and questions via the hash tag #EFJVienna live on 19 – 20 March. A detailed report of the outcome of the seminar will be reported in the next Focus. For more information, please visit HERE.

Defend Journalists' Right to Inform the Public

(07.03.2014) EFJ, the European Federation of Journalists, ENPA, the European Newspaper Publishers' Association, EMMA, the European Magazine Media Association, and EPC, the European Publishers' Council, have launched a joint petition calling on EU policy-makers to defend their right to inform the public in the EU data protection law reform.

The group has called on journalists, publishers and all EU citizens to sign the petition letter asking members of the European Parliament, Council of Ministers and the European Commission to guarantee the freedom of expression and information under Article 80 of the draft General Data Protection Regulation.  (Read more)

How is Article 80 of EU data protection law affecting rights?

Without the explicit exemption for journalists and publishers to process data there is a risk that: 

• Journalists will not be able to process certain data for use in their reports or investigations, even though the data is integral to the report and concerns an issue of public interest.

• Publishers will not be able to publish articles including such data, even though it is in the public interest to do so, and will face huge fines for a breach of the rules.

• An EU Citizen's right to be informed about important issues of public interest will be undermined, as will democracy in Europe.

Journalist Tuncay Özkan Released after Five-Years in Jail

Ozkan united happy to be united with his daughter(10.03.2014) The EFJ has welcomed the release of journalist Tuncay Özkan who had been accused of leading a terrorist organisation and prosecuted in the Ergenekon case since 2008. Following Ã–zkan's release, three other journalists, Merdan YanardaÄŸ, Yalçın Küçük and Hikmet Çiçek, have also been released. 

Upon his release, Özkan thanked the EFJ and its affiliates, especially the Norwegian Union of Journalists (which adopted his case), for their tireless campaigning for his release. 

Meanwhile, fifty-two journalists are still behind bars. Most of them are accused of committing terrorist acts.

The EFJ has launched an online petition calling for the released of the imprisoned journalists, including Füsun Erdogans, who was given a life sentence for a crime she did not commit. The son of Erdogans will launch a three-day hunger strike from 10 March with the support of EFJ affiliates in Denmark (DJ) and the Netherlands (NVJ).

Censorship Grows in Turkey


As the government in Turkey intensifies its measures to crack down on media, concerns over the growth of self-censorship and threats to independent journalism have grown among the journalism community. In a recent report published by the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN), it has stated that the media system in the country is subject to ‘unacceptable levels of interference’ from government and business interest. Recently, the government also passed an internet bill that restricts freedom of expression online. (Read more) (picture: Milliyet via EJN)

Privatisation Threatens Independent Media

(10.03.2014) The Journalists' Union of Serbia organised a round table discussion with representatives of media organisations, political parties and political analysts in the country. At the end of the meeting, participants concluded that media privatisation has threatened the independence and quality of journalism. The discussion was organised with the help of the LO-TCO (Swedish Trade Union Confederation and the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees).

Swiss Court Orders Journalist to Testify against Source

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), together with one of its affiliates in Switzerland, impressum, have criticised the Swiss court's decision to order a journalist to testify against his source in a drug dealer case that was published in the Swiss German-language daily, Basler Zeitung (BaZ) in October 2012.

According to Article 28a of the Swiss Penal Code, journalists and media organisations have the right to protect their sources. This protection also extends to the identity of the author (in case of anonymous publication), the content of the publication and all research materials used. It also shields journalists and media premises from search and seizure. (Read more)

European Initiative for Media Pluralism

(11.03.2014) The EFJ affiliates in Germany (DJV and DJU in ver.di) will join a press conference in a campaign on the European Initiative for Media Pluralism in Berlin.  The campaign has so far gathered over 14.000 signatures from citizens across Europe to support its call for the European institutions to introduce laws that can guarantee media pluralism. Please join us and support this initiative by putting your name down HERE.

Macedonian Media Laws Continue to Receive Critics

(27.01.2014) The Association of Macedonian Journalists (ZNM) has welcomed the adoption of amendments to the country's heavily contested media law, but has remained cautious about some of its controversial reforms that will restrict media freedom. A recent case in point is the heavy fined received by Macedonian political weekly Fokus for defamation.

Meanwhile, the association has accused the Macedonian Ministry of violating journalists’ rights to freedom of association as a law introduced by the government forces the association to reveal information of its members. (Read more).


NUJ Members Represented at Al Jazeera

The international news organisation, the Al Jazeera International Limited, has recognised the representation of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) who will conduct collective bargaining on behalf of trade union members working at the broadcaster.

International Conference on Health Journalism

Top experts and practitioners in health journalism from Europe, North America and Africa will converge on Coventry University (UK) on May 14-16 for the second International Conference on Health Journalism. The conference aims to develop an ongoing online community of health journalism that can help raise standards and serve as a resource for hard-pressed health journalists.

The conference is supported by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the Medical Journalists Association. More details can be found at


Linking to a Website Does Not Infringe Copyright

(13.2.2014) The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that linking to a website does not infringe copyright and thus will not require prior consent from authors before linking the content. In the Svensson v Retriever Sverige AB case, journalists at Svensson have accused the news aggregator company, Retriever Sverige, of infringing their copyright by posting links of the articles published on the website, Göteborgs-Posten, without asking for their permission. The journalists demanded Retriever Sverige to compensate for listing the links to their articles. (Read more)

Study Reveals Unfairness in Authors’ Rights Contracts

(20.02.2014) The European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee has published a study assessing the impact of abusive provisions in national authors’ rights and contract law for creators.  

The results of the study show a series of unfair provisions and contractual arrangements that impede journalists and other creators from receiving fair remuneration for their work. (Read more)


IFJ Demands End to Violence Against Women Journalists

(08.03.2014) The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has marked International Women's Day by calling on media organisations and public authorities to confront violence against female journalists by providing a safe working environment for women in the media. A joint declaration was adopted by the Global Union Federations in preparation for this event (available in English, Spanish and French). (Read more)

Campaign Launched to Improve Gender Equality in Leadership

(22.01.2014) The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has launched a campaign calling on its members to have more women in trade union leadership positions.  Among the campaign goals, ITUC member organsiations, including both IFJ and EFJ, are asked to have at least 30% of women in their decision-making bodies by 2018. (Read more)

More Women in Journalism but Working Conditions Remain Precarious

(20.01.2014) According to the data published by the French Commission of Press Cards (C.C.i.J.P.), the number of women journalists is increasing. However, the working conditions of journalists in France particularly freelance journalists remain precarious.






















Debate: Undercover: how the police used infiltration and intimacy to monitor activists, NUJ, Brighton

Training: In the use of official statistics, LŽS, Vilnius

Seminar: Covering Conflict: war and journalism in the 21st century, ESIEMTH, Thessaloniki 

The Assembly of Delegates, Impressum, Münchenstein

Training: Writing for the Web, NVJ, Amsterdam

Debate: The Specifics of the online press, AJP, Brussels

Training: Freelancing = entrepreneurship, NVJ, Amsterdam

Training: Videojournalism, NVJ, Hilversum

Conference: Confronting Austerity in Journalism, EFJ, Vienna

Freelance Expert Group meeting, Vienna

Converging and Online Media Expert Group meeting, Vienna

EFJ Steering Committee meeting, Brussels

Seminar: Business start-up for journalists and artists, Dju Verdi, Berlin

Labour Rights Expert Group meeting

Event: A VIP Pass to Brussels, NVJ, Brussels

Debate - Youth and Women in the Media (MEDIANE), Würzburg

Seminar: Business models in the area of new media, ESIEMTH, Thessaloniki 

Training: Getting started as a freelance, NUJ, London
Have activities coming up? Send us your events.
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Renate Schroeder, Pamela Moriniere & Yuk Lan Wong