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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE International Conference: Journalism's future to ally new Digital Media and Deontology from 2010

CoE International Conference: Journalism's future to ally new Digital Media and Deontology from 2010

Written by ACM
Friday, 09 October 2009


European Journalism has a future, despite the current crisis, if it succeeds to bring together a free and critical spirit, innovative Digital Media and Deontology, with first practical moves starting from 2010 : That was the main thrust of an International Conference at the CoE

Despite a full-week long programme (5 to 9 October : from early morning up to late evening !), plenty of various events on "Journalism's future", organized by the CoE and the Association "Citizenship and Journalism" headed by Jerome Bouvier; former Director of RFI, spreading from Human Rights issues, to Financial, Social, Educational, Technical and other aspects of any Journalist's' job, a majority of participants clearly plebiscitated these 2 key points, which were also highlighted in the anouncements made at French Minister of Culture, Frederic Mitterand's concluding speech.


''EuroFora''; constantly running from one CoE Room and Debate to another, witnessed, indeed, that, among 4 or 5 parallel events, it was only that about ... Internet Journalism, dealing with the question : - ''How to inform well on-line ?'', which was so full of people (mainly young) that there wasn't even enough space to stay there standing on its feet !..During all this week, nothing else ever attracted a so unexpectedly large audience..

Upbeat about the immense possibilities, including financial, for the development of On Line versions even of old, traditional Media, after the strong belief expressed earlier in Strasbourg by the Economic Newspaper ''Echos' Director, it was now the turn for generalist News-Magazine ''L'Express'' Internet version's Director, Eric Mettout, to tell ''EuroFora'' his own belief that the On line Press can find in future enough Funding, without blocking the News by payment requests, but thanks to other, parallel and innovative ''various resources'' resulting through the main website, (f:ex. by the growing on-line Publicity, by organizing various related activities, partnerships, etc, or by creating new digital services, fex; giving access to Data Bases, etc).

''World Editors Forum'''s Director, Bertrand Pecquerie, stressed that, currently, it seems that the Future belongs to the Internet, (as well as to the "hyper-Local"), Media.

Even former "Le Monde"'s director, Jean-Marie Colombani, jumped at the last-minute into the www boat, declaring later, (with 1 day delay to his initial schedule), that "the revolution of our times is that of Internet Media".

Even if he never explained yet why he had taken the controversial decision to practically exclude many hundreds of active and sometimes innovative writers who had published thousands of often interesting News-texts at "Le Monde"s Forums, between 2001-2004, by suddenly imposing, (against any Forum's rules) to betray the Personal Identity of any Writer, by having to give even his Bank account details to pay an amount of money (contrary to all other Web Forum's general practice), before even taking the risk to publish a line on "delicate", "hot" issues.. A blunder (or indirect censorship ?) which notoriously obliged hundredrs, (and mainly the best "Le Monde" Forum's writers, who had build themselves its reputation), to leave it empty, until it was downgraded in a never seen before low level..


Nevertheless, "I really believe that", Colombani (who was notoriously obliged to quit "Le Monde" meanwhile) added afterwards to "EuroFora", about his late declaration on "Internet Media'"s potential..

 Was it simply because he had guessed that the French Minister of Culture, competent also for the Press, would make strong anouncements to encourage the new Online Media, later in Strasbourg ?


- Despite a last-minute provoked obstacle which unexpectedly hindered him to come to Strasbourg, contrary to what was scheduled, the competent Minister Frederic Mitterand, indeed, launched a vibrant call, (through a Video-link from Paris to Strasbourg), inviting all "On line Editors to be ready for 2010" :

    - "The new status of On-line Editor opens the way to a Fund which will have 20 Million € in 2010", he stressed, (in addition to the aid towards traditional paper-printing, "which has been out passed by the digital revolution")

    Meanwhile, "the Digital Press Editors can already acquire a Legal Security, thanks to relevant measures recently taken on the Legal field fex. on Copyright at the Internet,, the Minister observed,  before anouncing that he asks Bouvier to help prepare a 2010 Deontology Charter "to defend Journalism's Values". (See infra).

 The 2nd stage of the popular Assemblies for the Press ("Etats generaux") will start soon, he anounced.


This week's events practically started with a memorial for killed Journalists Anna Politofskaya (the well-known dissident specialized on Tchethcen affairs), and Jean Helene (a former ..Economy student from Strasbourg, who became Press Reporter in Africa, and RFI's Top Journalist, before being killed during a risky reportage).


In contrast, an interesting, but disappointing session, where a small group of closely interlinked pals obviously wanted at any price to impose the view that "European Journalism doesn't sell, because it doesn't interest the readers", for whateever reason, almost turned into a scandalous ...censorship, when "EuroFora" dared support a minority of journalists who expressed an opposite view :

- "During more than 15 years of specialization in European News, we saw bureaucracy and waste, censorship, threats and aggressions, oppression of liberty, collegues who "disappeared", etc, but we never saw the so-called mythos of European Citizens' indifference to EU/CoE News ! On the contrary, among many examples, Families of "MISSING" persons and other citizens take the initiative to pay expensive International Phone calls or to write Letters to Strasbourg to ask us for "fresh" News, beyond the usual routine bla-bla in mainstream Media, while a New Agency suddenly won a European prize for breaking a record of popularity since 1999 after we started publishing there thousands of original EU/CoE News that People couldn't find elsewhere...Even during an exceptional visit for a UNO's Summit at its New York Headquarters, we were surprised to find out that our Newspaper decided to publish as "First Page" Headline News an original reportage we had send not about Global, but ...European News, (a statement about imminent decisions in Strasbourg and Brussels), At another occasion, a too "hot" News obtained at the CoE during a very ''delicate' Political context was brutally censored, while, ...2 Years (sic !) later, when the political context had changed, the SAME Info became, afterwards, Headline News at mainstream Media such as CNN, BBC, etc.. Conclusion : In fact, it's the freedom, the capacity and the will to find and publish original, critical European News, on "Hot" issues, which are not reported by routine mainstream Media; without being afraid of any ''consequencies'' if it's true and useful to the People, that counts'', ''EuroFora'' tried to conclude, but we were astonishingly interrupted and censored, with a strange brutal insistance, by one of the 2 or 4 pals who had got hold of the Microphones, of the ''Moderation'', etc, obviously eager to impose a pessimist view, at any price..However, ''EuroFora''s opinion, even if obviously ''dissident'', tried to explicitly integrate also some other converging remarks, exceptionally made by various collegues, in a similar direction : Fex; Fr 3's Francoise Schoeller's observation that "People are often thirsty for European News, if they are well presented": Or Jean Quatremer's point against his Editor in chief, who claiming that "polls show" a weak interest for EU News, refused publications, ''which attract many people at my NewsBlog", as he said, complaining also for the Editors' insistance to "make brief" and send the News so "fast" that there is "No Time for Investigative Journalism": Or a Portuguese collegue's observation that her bi-weekly radio-tv spot was upgraded thanks to EU/CoE News, etc: But this didn't avoid a strange censorship, (after too long delays to let us free to say at least some words) by the same small grouplet of 2 or 3 networked individuals (including a retired former journalist), who insisted to impose; at any price, their view that, at any case; "European Journalism doesn't interest" nobody and "doesn't pay", (with a curious dogmatism)..

Differend ambiance, next day, at another CoE workshop, about Journalists' legal "status", which had apparently gathered at least a few serious journalists :


After some interesting remarks by another participant, who described Journalism's work on Information Data as similar to that of "a Scientist who searches to find and verify the Truth", "EuroFora"s observations, (even if critical vis a vis the main speakers who chaired the infamous "Card" Committee, which attributed or refused a National Press Card to Journalists mainly according to Financial criteria), were apparently, kindly heard by all those attending the meeting, before several replies were given by 2 or 3 participants.

- "From the very start of a period of 15 years of European Journalism's work, until now, we were often surprised, and sometimes even shocked by the "Gap" which often exists between ECHR's case-law on Freedom of Expression, which protects Journalists' Liberty, and some Bureaucratic conditions or restrictions on formalities about  national or other "Press Cards", which might be, perhaps, useful for Financial, Commercial, or Taxation reasons, but have nothing to do with what is the "substance" and the real "specificity" of any real Journalist's work : To find original and critical News to publish on "hot" issues affecting the lives of the People and of general interest to the Society. On the contrary, we often see that individuals who do nothing of that, in some Countries they may keep their "Press Cards" for more than 10 Years while being employed by the Government at absolutely differend jobs, without any independance, and without doing nothing as a journalist for years;;;, Or that a former Journalist, fex. even after being hired as a simple "Assistant" of a MEP; nevertheless continues to exert unfair competition; to abusively block/delay infos, etc. vis a vis working journalists; etc., provoking grave damages: But, at the same time, several real Journalists, who do nothing else than to search and publish original News on "hot", "delicate" issues of general interest to the Society (according  to ECHR's case law) , often risking even their health, career; liberty or life, are delayed or even refused, under various bureaucratic or commercial pretexts, this or that national "card", (or, simply, don't ever find enough Time to stop working for the News and waste many hours, days, weeks or months, etc. on bureucratic formalities.. Or this raises  sometimes, serious problems of Freedom, protection from various threats, dangers or even aggressions, when they work on "hot" issues, etc, "EuroFora" observed, citting, fex. the "shocking" case of a murdered Journalist who was brutally shot down by gunmen in front of his Family Home, back in the 1990ies, but was scandalously refused even the slightest verbal expression of solidarity by a so-called "Chairman" of a corporatist "Association", on the sole pretext that the murdered victim of brutal aggressions obviously motivated by his writtings, has "no card" ! (While, on the contrary, at the same time, EFJ/IFJ's Secretary General Aidan White, and others, wrote sharp Letters strongly denouncing he murder and asking the competent Authorities to find and punish those responsible for the murder).. In conclusion, "EuroFora" suggested to focus on the Deontologic core which is specific to any real Journalist's task, according also to ECHR's case-law, whenever people may have to judge about his:her status, and leave all the other, financial, commercial etc. non-specific matters aside, in order to be settled in another; more adequate way.
This was kindly heard, and even if someone focused unilateraly only to the "unfair competition" point, other Journalists (even from the infamous "card" commissison), immediately appeared more motivated to ask "EuroFora" various questions on the "protection of Journalists' freedom" main point, (either observing that the "Card Committee" often attributes some Press Cards to certain Journalists who really need some protection for their elementary liberty, integrity and/or life, or asking to learn more about the case of the murdered Journalist who was scandalously refused any solidarity by a petty bureaucrat under pretext thet "he didn't have a card")...

During a previous CoE Conference on "New developments on Freedom of expression", co-organized at the European Court of Human Rights together with Strasbourg University's Public Law's department headed by professor Constance Grewe, with the participation of European/International Federation of Journalists' Secretary General, Aidan White, the idea floated about linking the protection of Journalist's freedom, based on their main aim to provide original information to the public on issues of general interest to the Society at large, and their commitment to respect an elementary Deontology :

Such moves might open a possibilty to overcome the current "crisis" of traditional Press by finding "new allies", mainly at the Internet, as Aidan White had concluded.

2009 International Conference on Journalism's organizer, Jerome Bouvier's, and French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterand's this week's declarations on the need to forge a "Deontologic charter" freely adopted by Journalists in 2010, can obviously go towards such good directions...

CoE's Director on Culture, Media and Ecucation, Mrs Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, told "EuroFora" that CoE "is ready to provide help, if Journalists wanted", for the preparation of a panEuropean Deontology charter for Journalists, "but doesn't want to interfere, unless they ask us to do so".


    Meanwhile, at a concluding session dedicated to "Politicians' expectations from the Press", ChristianDemocrat/EPP EuroMP Jean-Marie Cavada (a well-known former Journalist), focused on Journalists' "Freedom", Socialist MEP Catherine Trautman rather preferred to stress their "Independence", while Leftist politician Clementine Autain, asked to give Journalists "Time" to think .

    How kind of all three of them, if they really believe what they said.. "EuroFora" always believed, (rightfully or erroneously), that real Politicians are Journalists' best "real-politic" allies : Simply because they are the first who will benefit if Journalists are really "free", "independent", and with enough "time" to work well !..



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