Παρασκευή, 10 Μαΐου 2013

EFJ: Journalists are at the heart of the crisis

Ξεσηκώνονται οι δημοσιογράφοι της ΕυρώπηςΕκτύπωσηE-mail
Παρασκευή, 10 Μαΐου 2013
Ο  αγώνας ενάντια στην υποβάθμιση των συνθηκών εργασίας των δημοσιογράφων, ειδικά για τους ελεύθερους επαγγελματίες, η υπεράσπιση των συγγραφικών  δικαιωμάτων και του ευρωπαϊκού οπτικοακουστικού μοντέλου που ισορροπεί επικίνδυνα ανάμεσα στην δημόσια και την ιδιωτική ραδιοτηλεόραση, καθώς και για μια ποιοτική δημοσιογραφία σε έναν κόσμο όπου ο καθένας μπορεί να είναι ένας δημοσιογράφος, θα συζητηθούν από τις 13 έως τις 15 Μαΐου στην Verviers στη Γενική Συνέλευση της Ευρωπαϊκής Ομοσπονδίας Δημοσιογράφων.

Στην φετινή συνάντηση θα συναντηθούν 80 δημοσιογράφοι που εκπροσωπούν Δημοσιογραφικές Οργανώσεις από 28 χώρες. Οι εργασίες της συνάντησης, έχουν ως γενικό τίτλο: "η δημοσιογραφία ως δημόσιο αγαθό».
Σε αυτό,  το οποίο συμφωνούν οι δημοσιογράφοι της Ευρώπης είναι η αυξανόμενη ανησυχία από το γεγονός ότι κυριολεκτικά χιλιάδες δημοσιογράφοι έχουν χάσει τη δουλειά τους κατά τους τελευταίους μήνες σε όλη την Ευρώπη, ορισμένοι επηρεάζονται από τις περικοπές θέσεων εργασίας και άλλοι βρίσκονται ήδη σε πιο επισφαλή θέση, με αποτέλεσμα η επισφαλής εργασία και η έλλειψη επενδύσεων σε ανθρώπινο δυναμικό, να έχει σημαντικό αντίκτυπο στην ποιότητα της πληροφόρησης, της πολυφωνίας, της ελευθερίας του Τύπου και ακόμα αυτής της ίδιας της ποιότητας της Δημοκρατίας.(Ακόμη και στις πλούσιες ευρωπαϊκές χώρες, η ελευθερία του Τύπου είναι ένα ζήτημα υπό αίρεση).
Η οικονομική συγκυρία είναι σκληρή, αλλά δεν μπορεί να αποτελεί δικαιολογία για την παραμέληση της δημοσιογραφίας και τη συμβολή της στη δημοκρατία. Με το πρόσχημα της ευελιξίας και του ανταγωνισμού, η δημόσια ραδιοτηλεόραση  υποβάλλεται σε περικοπές προγραμμάτων, μείωση των αμοιβών των δημοσιογράφων, ενώ παρακάμπτονται και οι συλλογικές  διαπραγματεύσεις.
Σε αυτό το πλαίσιο, δημοσιογραφικές  οργανώσεις του Νότου της Ευρώπης έχουν από κοινού καταθέσει ένα ψήφισμα με το οποίο περιγράφουν το πρόβλημα και ορίζουν τις νέες απαιτήσεις που προκύπτουν προς την Ευρωπαϊκή Ομοσπονδία και τα νέα όργανα που θα εκλεγούν στην Verviers.
Το ψήφισμα στο οποίο έχουν καταλήξει είναι το ακόλουθο:
Perspectives for the General Meeting of the EFJ

Journalists among the hardest hit by crisis and austerity policies
The EFJ, covering more than 200 000 members, must act in defence of the moral and material rights of journalists now more than ever, but it must also stand up for the public right to know. Professional journalists must always assess their sources, but from now on, they should also keep in touch with, and participate in, social networks, to try and offer the public reliable and balanced information.
We are facing a serious crisis across different sectors, but the media world has, perhaps, been hit particularly hard.
In this context of major, profound and general crisis, it falls to journalists' trade unions and associations to play a determining role: defending pluralism as well as the jobs of media workers, and bringing together and informing the public.
Our profession is witnessing the closure of numerous media companies, some of them of historical significance, closely linked to greater media concentration. This affects the very heart of democratic debate, which is increasingly dominated by a single arrative, where social issues are reduced to financial macro-economy.
Under the pretext of a spurious flexibility, a monolithic vision is being imposed on the public. Whether in Nicosia, Lisbon, Madrid or Athens, social regression always goes hand in hand with media closures, lower pay for journalists and a disregard for the very idea of collective bargaining. The status of freelance journalists is deteriorating and thousands of our colleagues are being driven into unemployment, in an EU where 26 million are already unemployed. The quality of news reporting suffers because of  the difficult conditions in which journalists have to work.
Standing up for journalists
Journalists are at the heart of the crisis. As employees, they have to put up with the loss of confidence of the people in public affairs, and in politics. This growing distrust is also affecting the media in which citizens often enough can't find the information they need to make up their own mind. When such loss of confidence is coupled with a decrease in advertising revenues, the whole business model of the media becomes under threat. When media depend more on advertising revenue than on readers, viewers, or listeners, they are doubly weakened. They become ever more subject to economic pressure.
The reaction of the editors (publishers of print, audiovisual or new electronic media) is the same everywhere, within and outside the eurozone, "as if there were no other legitimate option than unqualified adherence to Europe as it is and as it is getting ready to be, that is to say reduced to a single bank and currency, under the rule of unlimited competition" (Pierre Bourdieu).
All our social achievements are being questioned: labour law, pay, working conditions, with casualisation of labour reaching unprecedented levels. We note the withdrawal of governments from proividing public services, while multiple pressures are increasing on quality journalism and editorial content.
In this regard, the dismantling of media, the redunancies of many of their employees, and the impoverishment of journalists must remind us of the IFJ motto: "There can be no press freedom if journalists exist in conditions of corruption, poverty or fear".
In this novel situation, what conclusions should we draw, and what should the EFJ's answer be?
First, we should bear in mind what Tony Judt, the British historian and essayist who died recently, wrote in 2007: "In our newfound worship of productivity and the market, have we not simply inverted the faith of an earlier generation? Nothing is more ideological, after all, than the proposition that all affairs in politics, private and public, must turn upon the globalizing economy, its unavoidable laws and its insatiable demands”. There is no inevitability, either in our profession, or in our sector, or in society itself.
Confronted with certain national or European policies and with highly organised editors applying more pressure, we are aware of current stakes and of the increasing interweaving of continental multimedia groups. It is time to contribute to European trade unionism, and  avoid any potential national antagonism. The EFJ must come up with a real project to enhance the prospects of journalists and improve their collective protection tools. The EFJ should not cut itself from other sectors that are also involved in media trade unionism, and are organised within the European Trade Union Confederation. Prospects and actions to be carried out in Europe should:
1 – Counter the rampant casualisation of our profession by bringing the status of freelance journalists into line with that of staff journalists. We should look carefully at the legal status of self-employed ("auto-entrepreneur"), as many freelances or “auto-entrepreneur” journalists have not chosen job insecurity, it has been imposed on them! On the other hand, journalists who choose not to be part of a particular newsroom must be protected by a specific contract, negotiated by themselves and the organisations representing journalists. We must stand up against the social insecurity of the freelance journalist as it may lead to information itself becoming uncertain.
2 – Restore the profession with wage policies appropriate to the responsibility of journalists in society; ethical journalism requires high-level material conditions; We should encourage the establishment of editorial committees and editorial boards  as a mean for journalists to set the benchmarks for ethical standards and ethical news.
3 – Work towards elaborating a common set of working conditions, by having more large international groups sign better International Framework Agreements (IFA). The EFJ will draw up a research project to list the best examples of good working conditions. It will look into the most appropriate words and phrases to use against the tendency of managements to transform a journalist into “a jack of all trades”, pointing especially to young journalists the necessary distinction between multiskilling and being versatile.
4 – Develop an authors' rights protection system, valid in all countries, protecting moral rights, in particular, as part of the journalist's authors' rights, so as to promote ethical journalism, and make content aggregators (Google, Yahoo, etc.) respect the authors' rights of journalists. In collective agreements, or in contracts between freelances and editors, the authors' rights of the journalist must be clearly specified.
5 – Establish editorial freedom from all outside pressure, including economic pressure from shareholders, and pressure from lobbies; the ethics of journalism must be protected from any political and economic pressure, especially from media owners who increasingly come from outside the news profession, and are more closely bound to the financial or industrial spheres.
6 – Set a threshold for media concentration, which is a threat to pluralism in a globalised media sphere.
7 – Make it easier to study journalism at university, especially in countries where there is little access to journalism education, so as to provide a real social diversity in editorial teams. Our profession must stay open to differences, and should adopt a policy of continuous training during all our professional life.
CONCLUSION
Being an ethical journalist entails a respected and high-level status; today, “low-cost” status conveys the growing contempt of the new press and broadcasting group owners, who have sometimes got there for misguided reasons, or simply have no intention of contributing to providing quality information.
Today there is a pressing need for our profession to regain its dignity. The Charter of Munich, approved by representatives of the Journalists' Unions of the European Community in 1971, must appear in all the European collective agreements, to help ensure that journalists respect their duties, but even more to defend their rights.
This ambitious programme will only be carried out if  the EFJ can rally its member unions, and if those unions can increase their membership, and can call upon their members in actions on the European as well as the national level. In this regard, let us quote again the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who points out: “Social history teaches us that there is no social policy without a social movement able to impose it (and it is not the market, as we are led to believe today, but the social movement which has “civilized” the market economy, while contributing greatly to its effectiveness)”.
Working groups (carrying on the work of the current Expert Groups) will be set up to look into the actions to be carried out on each issue. The Steering Committee will supervise the groups, measure progress, keep member unions informed, and ensure the participation of EFJ elected members in each of these structures.
Against the idea of undefined and hopeless austerity, unwavering solidarity must be the EFJ's attitude, to offer help and advice to the member unions that have been weakened by the crisis, and to those in countries where journalists have less and less social protection (attacks on the Labour Code, on collective bargaining, etc.), or endure assaults on civil liberties.
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