Which Journalism for Another Europe?

The successful seminar taking place on 7 December in Brussels was an opportunity for representatives of mainstream and alternative media to discuss perspectives on the European information.

This one-day seminar, organized by ACJJ (Association Culturelle Joseph Jacquemotte) with the support of transform! was held in the IHECS communication and journalism school in Brussels (Institut des Hautes Étudesdes Communications Sociales). Journalists from France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Finland, Belgium and Ireland took the opportunity to meet and discuss perspectives on the European information to identify leads on how the media can:

  • Put into perspective the European decisions with local and national issues;
  • Give citizens the key reading for understanding European political issues;
  • Engaging citizens knowingly in a European public debate

Session 1: Introduction
Moderator: Laura Leprêtre, cultural facilitator for ACJJ
Europe, largely absent": Panorama of the European information in the mainstream Medias – Lorenzo Consoli, European journalist from Italy, former president of API (International Press Association) stressed that the number of accredited journalists at the European union stagnated since 2010. And the working conditions and social situation for European journalists are changing (interim contract, journalists are younger, more precarious). Moreover, redactions ask journalists to produce faster and more, which is not conducive to analysis and deep investigations.
Pluralism of media in Europe – Esther Durin, coordinator of the European pole IHECS communications school stressed the problem of media concentration by financial monopolies which have strong undermined on media pluralism in Europe and the pluralism of ideas.
European journalism in everyday life: the case of Greece under the limited sovereignty by the Troika – According to Maria Aroni, Greek journalist, Brussels correspondent for EU Athens News Agency and ANT1 TV, the crisis in Greece has focused media attention on this country that did not used to be under the spotlight. The treatment of the Greek crisis has been very different depending on the media and the country of origin of these media. Guilt of the Greek people was predominant in the newspapers of the countries of northern Europe; solidarity prevailed a little more in the media in southern Europe.
Session 2: Sharing for another journalism
Round Table “What type of media to meet the challenges of European citizens’ information?

  • Moderator: Esther Durin, coordinator of the European pole IHECS communications school
  • General media: Griselda Pastor, Spanish journalist, Brussels correspondent for radio Cadena SER
  • Cooperative media: Andres Perez, cooperative agency Sanchopanza
  • Alternative Media: Gérard de Selys, journalist, creator of Indymedia
  • Internet Media: Ben Berges, for the website Indignez-vous!
  • Online newspaper: Jean-Sébastien Lefebvre, European journalist

Access to information has never been easier than today. With internet and social media, the European citizen can access a large amount of information on the European Union and communicate directly with the institutions. New forms of media are for example blogs, online journals etc. Paradoxically, the gap continues to widen between the European institutions and citizens. The democratic deficit in the EU seems amplified by a lack of information regarding the issues of European power. This gap is highly detrimental for citizens because a large part of the social, political and economic issues are decided at the European level.
The role of the journalist is to decipher the European information, search for information by meeting with MEPs, lobbyists, officials of the Commission, and go to the Commission midday press review… Unfortunately, there are not enough accredited journalists at the European level (only 1,000 for 28 member states), and editors of mainstream media dictate to their journalists what they want to see appearing as information about the European Union.
Citizens and former mainstream journalists participated in the creation of alternative media or specialized media which aim, as Indymedia website for example, to analyze European and international policies and put them into perspective with the public issues. Various initiatives were presented such as: Context.com,  an online newspaper specialized on European politics, specialized cooperative agencies or associations in social and community investigations (SanchoPanza coop), radios dealing with European information related to local issues (BXFM radio), community radio stations that offer citizens to make their own radio show (Radio Panik) and online website information (Indignez-vous). These media are essential for the pluralism of European information.

Session 3: European elections, how to create a real debate among citizens? 

  • Solange Hélin, press officer group S&D at the European Parliament
  • Myriam Djegham, Comité Action Europe
  • David Lundy, press officer group GUE/NGL at the European Parliament
  • Mikael Carpelan, independent journalist

Politicizing the European elections is very difficult. In fact, with 28 member states having very different cultures as diverse political currents that do not facilitate the politicization of European issues. The institutions “neutralize” decisions. However this form of neutrality is dangerous because under the guise of Objectivism we see the predominance of ultra-liberal and capitalist policies. In May 2014, elections to the European Parliament can be an opportunity to reverse the trend. The challenge for the media is to perceptual local issues of European power, the impact of these on the citizens’ daily lives and give them the keys to be able to participate and vote in knowingly.