First of all, thank you for your trust by voting me to lead the EFJ together with a new team. The result of the GM showed that the EFJ is reflecting a more dynamic, inclusive and gender balanced outlook.
The newly elected Steering Committee (SC) almost reached gender parity with four women and five men including some young faces. For sure, gender will be among our priorities together with the issue of journalists’ safety as reflected in the GM.
Your commitment, engagement and positivity shown in the GM proved that together, we are stronger. In the past years, we have learned that it is important to listen to our members and respond to their needs in an inclusive way. This is the reason that the EFJ can remain credible, relevant and sustainable for journalists.
We have built our reputation for Europe’s largest organisation for journalists. European institutions, policy makers and non-governmental organisations consider us as the voice for journalists in Europe. They regularly seek our opinions and participation when they decide on media policy issues. We have also built a broad alliance with CSOs who are eager to cooperate with the EFJ.
Going forward with the strong foundation the EFJ has built so far, the new SC will continue the inclusive approach to bridge our differences with a renewed commitment to fight for journalists.
Last but not last, my sincere gratitude goes to our Estonian colleagues for their hospitality.
The European Federation of Journalists elected its new Steering Committee on Friday 10 May 2019, during its General Meeting taking place in Tallinn, Estonia.
More than 90 participants including delegates and observers from 49 EFJ member organisations in 36 countries attended the General Meeting to elect the next Steering Committee members and to adopt the EFJ working programm for the next three years (2020-2022).
The EFJ Steering Committee is now composed of 4 women and 5 men. Mogens Blicher Bjerregård from Denmark was re-elected President. He is now supported by Marta Barcenilla from Spain who became the new vice-president. The position of the honorary treasurer will be taken over by Martine Simonis from Belgium.
The delegates adopted 17 resolutions - on the topics safety of journalists (11), media freedom and labour rights (5) and on a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in Cyprus - and four declarations. All documents can be downloaded here. It was most striking that the topic of safety has reached Europe now as well.
(25.05.2019) Ahead of the European elections, the EFJ has launched a Manifesto calling on all members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to support the revival of a free and pluralistic media in Europe. 118 candidates from ten countries had endorsed the manifesto titled “Europe needs journalism” in advance. At least 13 of them were elected new MEPs now. The EFJ-manifesto contains demands concerning the following eight topics:
Financial sustainability & the future of journalism
Collective bargaining and social protection for all workers
Trust and accountability through ethical journalism
EFJ endorses Euractiv’s urge for a new MEP-intergroup on media
On 4 June, Euractiv in cooperation with EU40 invited media interested outgoing and newly elected members of the European Parliament (MEPs) for a networking event. Its aim was to link supporters of a healthy media system in order to found a new intergroup among the next MEPs. Furthermore, Euractive Foundation awarded six MEPs for their work on media issues in the last term. They were presented by former chairman of the media intergroup Jean-Marie Cavada and EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez. Listing a worrying number of attacks on journalists that took place in different European countries during the last year, Gutiérrez set a focus on the rising importance of safety of journalist.
In the last years, the EFJ determined a raising amount of violent actions against journalists even in the core of Europe. In mid-April, Journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead while she was covering the riots at the Creggan housing estate in the city of Londonderry (Derry) in Northern Ireland. The former Belfast Telegraph journalist was 29 years old. At the beginning of May, Ukrainian investigative journalist Vadym Komarov was beaten into a coma by an unidentified person. It is already the second time he is severely injured because of his journalistic work. In the ongoing series of attacks on journalists in Turkey, the recent two cases of Yavuz Selim Demirağandİdris Özyol,both being severely beaten up on 10 and 15 May urged the EFJ to send a joint letter to President Erdoğan together with 19 other press freedom organizations. On 14 May 2019 at about 2:30 a.m. unknown attackers set Greek investigative journalist Mina Karamitrou’s car on fire, using a flammable liquid. Only nine days later, Stefano Origone, an Italian journalist was beaten up by riot police officers while covering clashes among demonstrators in a rally of the far-right party CasaPound in Genoa, even though he identified himself as a journalist. On 3 June, a France 3 Normandie - journalist was attacked while filming in front of the mosque As-salam in Petit-Couronne. He was hit, thrown on the ground and had his camera broken. Afterwards, the assailants locked him up in the compound of the mosque, until the police intervened.On the General Meeting of the EFJ on 10 May in Tallinn, the delegates set a special focus on safety by eleven resolutions on cases of threats and attacks in different countries.
From 21 to 30 June 2019, the second European Games will take place in Minsk (Belarus). The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) published some guidelines for journalists covering the sports event related to accreditations, security measures and safe communications. The memos are available in English and Belarusian.
(23.04.2019) Austrian presenter Armin Wolf from the national broadcaster ORF was threatened by FPÖ's General Secretary Harald Vilimsky. The trigger was a live interview at ORF 2, where Wolf compared a cartoon on a FPÖ election poster to one showing a jew in the former Nazi newspaper “Der Stürmer”. As a reaction, Vilimsky threatened the comparison was “something that cannot remain without consequences”. After the show, numerous supporters of the far right-wing party sent hate postings to the ORF journalist on Facebook.
(17.05.2019) The German publications Der Spiegel and Süddeutsche Zeitung published a video that shows by now former Vice-Chancellor of the Republic of Austria, Heinz-Christian Strache, the FPÖ leader, and his parliamentary leader, Johann Gudenus, talking to a woman about how she could invest in Austria. During the meeting in Ibiza, the woman says she is interested in gaining control of the country’s largest-circulation tabloid, the Kronen Zeitung, to which Strache replies that after staff changes at the paper, it could help the far-right Freedom party (FPÖ) in its election campaign.
(12.04.2019) Johanna Vehkoo, a Finnish journalist, has been found guilty of defaming local city counselor Junes Lokka by referring to him as a racist and ‘nazi clown’ in a 2016 Facebook post. The politician is known as an anti-immigration activist with a history of making far-right extreme pronouncements, for which he was fined. The Oulu District Court found that Vehkoo’s comments on her Facebook page constituted a personal attack on Lokka and that she did not focus her criticism on his politics. She was ordered to pay Lokka 200 € for the suffering he experienced and 6000 € of complainant’s legal fees.
Cases like the one of Johanna Veekoo inspired the creation of a new fund for journalists who became victims of persecution or threats. It will be launched after midsummer and it is open to staff journalists as well as freelancers. The fund is a joint project of the Union of Journalists in Finland (UJF), five top Finnish media companies and several other organisations working in the media sector. It aims to help journalists in paying legal costs in cases of defamation as well as harassments. The foundation follows a spate of such cases in Finland in recent years, only a fraction of which have been dealt with by the courts.
(28-29.05.19) How to increase gender equality and fight online harassment of female journalists? Gender was the focus of the last workshop of the 'Managing Change in the Media' project attended by around 30 journalists and journalists’ representatives from 20 European countries last week in Istanbul. Co-organised by the EFJ and the Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS), the workshop provided successful practices from affiliates and media outlets; two trainings on how to bargain individually and collectively; and concrete tools to fight online harrassment. The topic of safety has been intensively discussed following the screening of the OSCE documentary 'A Dark Place' which explores the phenomenon of online harrassment and its impact on media freedom through journalists’ and experts’ testimonies. More about the workshop and resources at this link.
Apply for the final conference, 10-11 October, Thessaloniki, Greece
We invite you to attend the final conference of the 'Managing change in the media' project to take place in Thessaloniki, Greece, on the 10th and 11th of October 2019. The event will focus on the future of the news industry involving social partners and building on results and best practices collected in the four workshops on digital journalism and new business models; union modernisation and recruitment; strategies to tackle precarious work; public service media and training; gender equality and diversity in the workplace. Don't miss the deadline and register before 2 September 2019 here!
Last chance: apply now for an Expert Exchange Visit!
Are you in need of an expert to renew your organisation's organising and recruitment policy, or good practices ideas for serving freelance members, or an expert on collective bargaining? Apply to the EFJ Expert Exchange Visit programme (EEV) and recruit an expert from the EFJ membership to visit your organisation for a training, workshop or simply a talk to exchange good practices. The aim of the EEV is to provide coaching specific to the need of a particular union or association within a particular national context. What do we cover?
The EFJ will pay for the travel costs of one expert to visit your organisation and cover two-night accommodation. The EEV is funded under the project "Managing Change in the Media" funded by the European Commission (DG Employment). Register at this link before 31 July 2019: https://nl.surveymonkey.com/r/VB6R8R8
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
New Council of Europe report on the safety of journalists
(28.05.19) Invited to participate in a hearing organised by the Media Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Paris on 28 May, the EFJ Secretary General asked parliamentarians to take seriously the follow-up of the alerts published on the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism and the Safety of Journalists. British MP George Foulkes, author of a report under discussion on the safety of journalists in Europe, asked Ricardo Gutiérrez to make concrete proposals on the subject, in order to include them in the report to be debated by the Parliamentary Assembly in October.
EFJ welcomes new ETUC leaders
(22.05.19) The EFJ General Secretary attended the Congress of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) from 22 to 24 May in Vienna (Austria). Leaders of Europe’s national trade unions and European Trade Union Federations (including the EFJ) re-elected Luca Visentini as ETUC General Secretary and elected Laurent Berger as ETUC President. The EFJ is particularly pleased with the election of Esther Lynch as Deputy General Secretary. As outgoing Confederal Secretary, she supported the EFJ's fight for the protection of whistleblowers and for the recognition of the social rights of freelance journalists. The ETUC Congress also adopted a new manifesto and action programme for 2019-2023 for ‘A fairer Europe for workers’. Accordingly with its action programme, the ETUC will continue pushing for competition laws to allow self-employed and freelance workers the right to bargain collectively.
Brasilia-Brussels: Journalism is the best antidote to disinformation
(16.05.19) The EFJ General Secretary delivered the opening speech of the international seminar on disinformation organised by the Brazilian High Electoral Tribunal in Brasilia on 16 May. Ricardo Gutiérrez said professional journalism and ethical conduct were the best antidote to disinformation. He encouraged the Brazilian authorities not to pass an anti-disinformation law, which would be ineffective, counterproductive and harmful to freedom of expression. The EFJ General Secretary defended the same position at the Annual Conference on European Media Law organised by the Academy of European Law (ERA), in Brussels, on 6 June.
The EFJ published a magazine on the topic "journalists’ working conditions in the Western Balkans and Turkey". The contributors are six students in journalism from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. They are all winners of the 2019 Journalism Students Award. The articles, both published in English and local language, draw a similar picture of low wages and delayed payment, threats and pressure from the local authorities, businessmen or editors, difficulty in enforcing basic rights, time pressure and frustrations. The magazine can be downloaded at this link.
Female journalists in the French-speaking part of Belgium are leaving their jobs, said a recent study published by the Belgian professional association of journalists (AJP) for the French-speaking region. According to the study, female journalists tend to leave their job earlier because of pervasive precariousness, dissatisfaction about working conditions, a lack of appreciation, the working atmosphere in newsrooms and the physical and mental consequences of working as a journalist. The whole study can be downloaded here.
Creative Skills Europe aims to collect information and develop tools to help the cultural and creative sectors adjust their skills to the realities of the field. After four thematic workshops in different European cities, the EFJ together with social partners has gathered information and produces four manuals for media practitioners in the audio-visual and live-performance sectors. They contain trainings for innovation, workforce development and the digital era as well as recommendations for the funding of training needs and examples of social partners initiatives supporting skills development. You can download the manuals here.