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19 December 2014

Building stronger unions in journalism

2014 is a challenging year for journalism and journalists. Journalists and truth once again became the first casualties of war. The Ukraine crisis has led to the tragic death of 7 journalists. Across Europe, 9 journalists have died while performing their duties. Safety of journalists is now on top of our agenda.

The role of journalists becomes ever more important especially in a world that is saturated with content from different media – online, print, TV, radio as well as other emerging platforms. But when journalists are losing their jobs and media are cutting back, quality in journalism is at risk. It is difficult, in such an environment, to maintain quality, ethics, independence and pluralism in journalism. We have seen a decline in media freedom and pluralism as governments are cutting its funding for Public Service Media. Meanwhile, we as unions should strengthen our focus on job growth.

In the battle to defend journalists’ rights and media freedom, we also have achieved remarkable results. The release of Turkish journalist, Füsun Erdoğan who has given a life sentence, early this year gave us a huge boost in our spirit. The EFJ campaign to Set Journalists Free has contributed to the release of dozens of journalists this year, leaving 20 journalists in prison to date. However, the mass arrest of journalists this week in Turkey reminds that the battle is not over. In Ukraine and Russia, our affiliates are working together with the EFJ to improve the working conditions for journalists and to resist media propaganda.

The EFJ has built stronger alliance with key players in the field. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Council of Europe as a partner of a global initiative to protect the safety of journalists.  We are also a partner of the ongoing OSCE dialogues on Ukraine and Russia. Early this year, I have met with the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation to seek international support to strengthen the protection of authors’ rights. And we will meet soon the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Nils Muižnieks, to strengthen our international network to defend journalists.

At the European level, we have gained support of EU policy-makers. On 28 November, we have met with the First Vice-President of the European Commission Mr. Frans Timmermans to raise our concerns over media freedom, pluralism, authors’ rights and public service broadcasting media. Mr. Timmermans gave his backing to promote quality and trust in journalism.

Although a lot is yet to be done in the coming year, we have already laid down a solid ground. In January, the EFJ will kick-off a two- year project “Right and Jobs in Journalism” focusing on union capacity building in the core areas of our work – labor rights, authors’ rights, freelances, youth and recruitment. To further strengthen journalism in Ukraine and Russia, an international conference will be organised in cooperation with the OSCE. The EFJ will also be a partner of UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day programme on May 3rd.

I wish us all a fruitful new year in 2015!
Mogens Blicher Bjerregård
EFJ President

EC First Vice-President backs journalists to promote quality journalism

(28.11.2014) The First Vice-President of the European Commission, Mr. Frans Timmermans, has told a delegation from EFJ that sustaining quality journalism and putting Europe’s media freedom back on track will be high on his agenda.

During the meeting, Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, the EFJ President drew the Commissioner’s attention to the drastic decline of media freedom citing repressive media laws in Hungary, Italy, Greece, Slovenia, Turkey and Macedonia. Mr. Timmermans gave his backing to the EFJ and its members in the fight to protect media freedom, safety of journalists and independent journalism across Europe. (Read More)

New online platform launched to protect journalists

(4.12.2014) The EFJ has joined forces with the Council of Europe (CoE) and media freedom partner agencies, in launching a new online “rapid reaction” platform for journalists under threats.The platform allows trusted media freedom partner agencies to post “alerts” on a public, centralised online platform when individual journalists are in danger or their work is under threat .

Mogens Blicher BjerrregÃ¥rd, the EFJ President attended the launch of the platform on 4 December in Paris and signed a “memorandum of understanding” on the creation of the new platform together with other media partner agencies. For more information about the new platform, please visit the CoE PACE website.

Focus on Belarus’ media freedom
(Left) Members of the Belarusian Association of Journalists staged actions in Vitebsk on 5 November, Stand up for Journalism Day calling for more press freedom in the country. © BAJ (Right) The EFJ and IFJ (in the picture) staff in Brussels mimicked the action taken by the BAJ members in order to show the ridiculousness of the police charges. © EFJ
The state of media freedom in Belarus has been the focus of the past two months. Freelance journalists continued to face discrimination as the repeated appeals of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) to change accreditation requirements for freelance and foreign journalists failed.

The authorities continued to use short-term detention to interfere the work of freelance journalists. On 20 October, freelancers Mariya Artsibasheva and Alexander Lyubenchuk were held briefly without reasons while conducting an interview in Minsk.

Following the incident, the EFJ and some member unions from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and the Czech Republic have written to the Belarusian government calling for reform on the accreditation requirements for freelance journalists working with foreign media. The EFJ Freelance Expert Group (FREG) met in October in Minsk and organised a roundtable discussion on the issue.  FREG members participated in a training section on payment, contractual agreements and other freelance issues during the meeting.

Despite the success of the FREG meeting, the accreditation requirements remain problematic for freelancers in Belarus.  On October 8, a district court in Mogilev ruled that freelance journalist Aleksandr Burakov was guilty of “illegal production and distribution of media products” for Deutsche Welle. Burakov was fined 6 million Belarusian Rubles (equal to 450 euros).

At the end of November, the EFJ and the European journalism community was outraged by the arrest and prosecution of BAJ colleagues who have participated in the EFJ annual campaign Stand Up for Journalism on 5 November. Six BAJ colleagues were arrested and fined 1300 euros for taking a picture at the outskirt of Minsk, in Vitebsk. One of was were detained for three days.

The OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović has also spoken out about the state of media freedom in Belarus. The EFJ is currently in close cooperation with BAJ, the Council of Europe and the OSCE media representative on the issue while BAJ is monitoring the ongoing media violations.

Contact: Renate Schroeder

EFJ to kick of project on “Rights and Jobs in Journalism”

The EFJ will kick off a two year project focusing on union capacity building and promoting the professional rights of journalists. Partners including the EFJ affiliates in Denmark, Spain, Slovenia and Croatia will gather in Brussels on 16 January in a preparatory meeting with the project steering committee to plan the activities ahead. Four capacity building workshops and a final conference will be organised in the next two years. One of the project partners, the Danish Journalists’ Union will organise the first workshop focusing on youth and recruitment in Copenhagen on 11 - 12 May.

A training manual in the areas of labour rights, authors’ rights, collective bargaining and recruitment will be produced at the end of the project. This project is a follow-up of the project on “Confronting Austerity” and funded by the European Commission, DG Employment and Social Affairs.

Skill councils in the audio-visual sector

The EFJ is a partner of a joint project with federations of media workers (UNI-MEI), musician (FIM) and actors (FIA) skill councils. The project aims to set up a solid structure for a European Skills Council in the audiovisual and live performance sectors. A series of capacity building workshops involving national skills councils will be organised. The project is funded by the European Commission, DG Employment and Social Affairs.

Contact: Yuk Lan Wong


Stand Up For Journalism 2014

(05.11.2014) For the 7th anniversary of “Stand Up For Journalism” campaign, the EFJ  has highlighted the impact of media concentration on media pluralism and freedom. Across Europe, its affiliates have responded to the call and launched their national campaigns to highlight the challenges facing journalists in their countries. You can see our actions at our campaign page and view the video (below) on our campaign against media tycoons. 

An infographics illustrating the six major media conglomerates in Europe and the extent of their media empire is also available for download.(Read more)


Government approves draft law to limit rights of small unions

(11.12.2014) DJV, an EFJ affiliate in Germany has launched a campaign to challenge the government proposal to limit the right to strike and collective bargaining of unions across the country. The union has called on its journalists to send their protest letters and postcards to the Federal Minister of Labour expressing their objection to the draft law.

According to the draft law that has been approved on 11 December, only the union with the most members in a company should have the right to negotiate with the employers and carry out strike actions. This would mean that larger unions will have a monopoly of power, making the smaller unions practically superfluous.
The DJV argues that the draft law is against the constitution and violating the rights to freedom of associations. The union is prepared to challenge the draft law at the constitutional court regarding its legality. (Read more) (PHOTO: DJV)


Police raids media outlets and arrests journalists

(14.12.2014) Police forces in Turkey have raided media outlets (Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu Television) and arrested at least 23 people, including journalists and television producers. The journalists were accused of “forming a criminal organisation”.
The Secretary General of the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS, an EFJ affiliate) Mustafa Kuleli criticised the arrest as an assault on media freedom and democracy in Turkey”. On 19 December, Barry White, National Union of Journalists' representative to the EFJ, brought greetings and solidarity from the NUJ and EFJ to the Downing Street protest with a group of supporters (see picture). He called on the UK government to speak out in defence of freedom of expression and the right to report in Turkey and for the release of all journalists facing prosecution in that country for just doing their job. (Read more)

KCK press trial continues

(5.11.2014) The 3rd High Criminal Court in Istanbul has proceeded to the hearing of the KCK Press trial where 46 journalists and media workers were prosecuted for “being a member or conducting propagandist activities on behalf of an illegal terrorist organisation”. The EFJ, represented by the Project Officer Mehmet Koksal, together with the International Publishers Association (IPA)’s Director José Borghino and the head of Istanbul Branch of the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) Gökhan Durmus have attended the hearing in solidarity with the accused journalists. (Read more



Mission to Ukraine (Download the Mission Report)


EFJ Alarmed by the Creation of “Orwellian” Information Ministry (Read more)

Investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova given 2-month sentence

(16.12.2014) The EFJ has called on the Azerbaijan authorities to immediately release the prominent investigative journalist, Khadija Ismayilova, following the order of a two-month preventative detention. According to media reporting, Ismayilova has been sent to prison for two months following a trial in an Azerbaijani court in Baku on 5 December in which she was accused of provoking the attempted suicide of Tural Mustafayev. (Read more) (PHOTO: AP/Todd Williamson)

Human Rights Commissioner’s report critical of Hungary’s media freedom

(16.12.2014) The EFJ welcomed the report on Hungary by the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Mr. Nils Muižnieks, criticising the country’s bad media freedom records and calling for changes to the media law. (Read more) (PHOTO:CoE)

Polish journalists acquitted following 24-hour detention

(9.12.2014) The EFJ and the Polish Journalists Association (SDP) have welcomed the acquittal of two journalists, Jan Pawlicki and Tomasz Gzell who were arrested on 20 November during the coverage of a post-election demonstration in Warsaw. However, the EFJ was not completely satisfied with the explanation provided by the police and the judge for the arrest and demand the authorities to respect the rights of journalists. (Read more)

Italian journalist arrested in Estonia

(15.12.2014)  Giulietto Chiesa, Director of Pandora TV, was arrested in Tallin, Estonia by the police while he was on the way to a public conference. The police told him he will be expelled from the country following an Estonian Foreign Ministery's decision. Following the arrest, the EFJ affiliate in Italy, FNSI, met with the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Italian ambassador calling for his release. Chiesa has been released now. Chiesa is known for his criticism against Poland and Baltic States for their anti-Russian politics.(Read more)

EFJ tells Yle to halt job-cutting plan

(06.11.2014) The Finnish public broadcasting company Yle has announced on Monday 3 November about the imminent plan to reduce at least 185 permanent jobs as part of its cost-cutting measures. Following the announcement, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) Initiates has sent a letter to CEO, Mr. Lauri Kivinen, and the management team of Yle, calling on them to engage in dialogue with the journalists’ union, Suomen Journalistiliitto.(Read more) (PHOTO: YUK LAN WONG/EFJ)

77 % of journalists in Macedonia work under constant risk of being fired

(25.11.2014) â€œIn Macedonia, only 1 % of journalists consider their jobs to be absolutely secure while 77 % believe that they are under constant risk of being fired. Raising the issue and the consequences of the insecure or precarious work in the media industry is more than necessary”, shows a new survey published in Skopje by the SSNM (Independent Union of Journalists and Media Workers, an EFJ affiliate). The study is based on 104 in-depth interviews with local journalists. (Read more)

Labour rights must top media reform agenda

(20.10.2014) The EFJ, represented by Director Renate Schroeder participated in a workshop on Labour Rights in Montenegro and the Balkan together with representatives of its affiliates from Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia to discuss the challenges in journalists' labour rights protection.  A colleague from Macedonia said that 900 out of 2000 journalists are out of job and this will only get worse. They often do not get paid for their work.

Marijana Camovic, the President of the Independent Trade Union of Journalists of Montenegro also lost her job in September. The EFJ and her union believe that she was fired because of her union work. They have demanded the management of Daily Press Vjesti which is owned by the Austrian based Styria media to explain her dismissal. Styria management replied by saying that her dismissal is not related to her trade union work. The union in Montenegro is bringing the case to the courts. (Read more)

South-east Europe Media Forum (SEEMF) 2014

(16 – 18.10.2014) The EFJ, represented by project office Mehmet Koksal, spoke at a panel organised by the South-east Europe Media Forum (SEEMF) in Skopje on Media in South East Europe: Not enough or too much information?  The panelists discussed how media censorship is eroding media freedom even in the so-called democratic countries. The meeting also discussed other issues on the right to access information, data journalism, privacy and the protection of sources, self-regulation and standards of quality reporting. A session was dedicated to opinion making in times of conflict and the lessons of the media war in Ukraine. (Read more)

Media integrity matters

(18.11.2014) South Eastern European Media Observatory researchers presented the findings in the European Parliament at a conference organised by the Slovenian parliamentarian at the European Parliament Ms.Tanja Fajon. In her introduction, Ms. Fajon highlighted the importance of the media for democracy and supporting the positive role the EU in promoting these values. The EFJ highlighted the importance of labour rights and decent working conditions as a prerequisite for ethical journalism.(Read more) (PHOTO: S&D)

Mission to Spain: Public TV in Danger

(04.12.2014)  For the first time, a consortium formed by the International Press Institute (IPI), Access Info Europe, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the World Association of Newspaper Publishers (WAN-IFRA ), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the Open Society Foundations (OSF) conducted a four-day mission, from 1 to 4 December, in Madrid and Barcelona, to evaluate the state of freedom of expression in Spain. Their conclusion? "Freedom of expression must gain ground in Spain" (Read more) (PHOTO:Aprensa Madrid)

EU Affairs
Council Ministers agree to strengthen freedom of expression in data protection law

(11.12.2014) After a concerted lobbying campaign of the EFJ in cooperation with the European Newspaper Publishers Associations (ENPA), the European Magazine Media Association (EMMA) and other media organisations, the 28 governments of the Council of Ministers finally agreed to a stronger wording on an exception of data regulation for journalistic work.  The latest version of the data protection law on “Processing of personal data and freedom of expression and information” (Article 80) states that Member States “shall reconcile the right to the protection of personal data pursuant to this Regulation with the right to freedom of expression and information, including the processing of personal data for journalistic purposes…” However, the draft will not be adopted until June. A trialogue will take place among the European Commission, European Parliament and the European Council.

Contact: Renate Schroeder

Commission to review working time directive

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the Working Time Directive (2003/88/EC) that sets out the minimum standards on working hours, holiday and rest breaks for workers across the EU member states. The Commission is planning to review the current minimum standards to allow more flexibility for businesses. The current Directive provides for a right to work no more than 48 hours per week to avoid excessive working time and protect the health and safety of workers. The deadline to respond to the consultation is on 15 March.

Contact: Yuk Lan Wong

New toolbox on Media Diversity launched in Brussels

(12-14.11.2014) A new toolbox for media professionals has been launched today by the Council of Europe (CoE) at the final conference of an EU and CoE funded project on Media in Europe for Diversity Inclusiveness (MEDIANE) with partnering organistions including the EFJ.  The MEDIANE Box aims at supporting media professionals to include diversity in their daily work and production. It is considered as a self-monitoring tool to monitor the capacities of the media and their staff members to improve their diversity inclusiveness in production and professional practices and an action support tool for strengthening diversity inclusiveness in media content design and production. The toolbox called “MEDIANE Box” was developed based on the hundreds of media professionals who have participated throughout the two-year project led by the CoE.

The final encounter was held in Brussels by the Council of Europe with the support of RTBF (public TV and Radio broadcasting for the French speaking community in Belgium) and in partnership with AGJPB (EFJ affiliate in Belgium), Centre pour l'égalité des chances, CSA and Institut pour l'égalité entre les femmes et les hommes.(Read more) (PHOTO: CoE)

Parliament forms copyright working group

(11.11.2014) A cross-committee working group on copyright has been formed at the European Parliament to tackle the copyright reform and discussions that will take place in the coming year. The working group led by Mr. Jean-Marie Cavada (ALDE, French centrist party) consists of members of the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI), the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). The group held its first meeting in Strasbourg, on 17 December 2014, with the presence of Commissioner Günther Oettinger.

Meanwhile, the JURI Committee is planning to publish an own-initiative report to examine the implementation of the current EU copyright law (the InfoSoc Directive 2001/29/EC). The report will examine, among others, the status of creators and their remuneration.
Call of Interest: 2014 Annual Meeting

If you are interested in hosting the EFJ Annual Meeting in 2015, please express your interest by Monday 12 January 2015. Contact us at for more information.
Season's greetings from the EFJ team (left: Gauvain Dos Santos, Yuk Lan Wong,  Bernard Vanmuysewinkel, Renate Schroeder, Ricardo Gutierrez and Mehmet Koksal) in Grand Place, Brussels. We wish you all a wonderful year in 2015!












IPI-AccessInfo-EFJ mission to Spain on freedom of expression

Council of Europe Online Safety Platform for Journalists

Memorial Day (Russian Union of Journalist)


Skill council project meeting

Rights and Jobs in journalism kick-off meeting

ETUI-EFJ Workshop on Cybersecurity for journalists

Freelance Expert Group (FREG) meeting

Authors' Rights Expert Group meeting
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Yuk Lan Wong, Renate Schroeder
Mehmet Koksal
, Gauvain Dos Santo