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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

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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.
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''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..

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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 ?

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- 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.

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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).

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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 :

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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".

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    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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Recent developments proved that Europe can suceed to overcome challenges by aiming at great objectives, and this is needed also in 2009, said EU chairman, French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    - "It's in the name of Great Ideas, Projects, Ambition and Ideals, that EU can overcome" challenges, stressed Sarkozy at EU Parliament in Strasbourg, in conclusion of a dense 7 months EU Chairmanship. "It's even easier for Europe to have Great projects, able to overcome national egoism, instead of limiting itself only to small projects" (unable to do alike), he observed.     

- "Europe must remain Ambitious and understand that the World needs her to take Decisions". "The World needs a Strong Europe", which "thinks on its own, has convictions, its own responses, its imagination" : "A Europe which does not limit itself into following" others, (as it did in the Past, when it followed USA, f.ex. on Bosnia). On the contrary, "Europe should undertake its own responsibilities", he said, after a series of succes in stopping the War between Russia and Georgia, and organizing the 1st EuroZone's Summit in Paris, which incited the Washington DC G-20 Summit to extend similar decisions World-wide.  


    - "When you sweep it all under the carpet, prepare yourself for hard tomorrows", he warned. "What hinders decisions is the lack of Courage and Will, the fading away of Ideals", he stressed before EU Parliament's 2008 debate on Human Rights and Sakharov prize on Freedom of thought attributed by MEPs to Chinese cyber-dissident Hu Jia, followed by an EU - Turkey meeting on Friday.

    - "I don't abandon my convictions" and "I will take initiatives" on EU level also in 2009, Sarkozy announced later. "France will not stop having convictions and taking initiatives" on Europe. + "It's an Error to wish to pass over the Heads of those who are elected in their Countries" : "It's an integrism I always fought against"', he warned.
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French EU Presidency faced 4 unexpected Crisis :

- An institutional crisis, with the Irish "No" to EU Lisbon Treaty, just before it started. A geopolitical crisis, wth the threat of War between Russia and Georgia risking to throw Europe back to Cold-war divisions, on August. A World-wide Financial and Economic crisis, arriving at a bad moment before crucial 2009 EU elections. And even a Strasbourg's mini-crisis, with EU Parliament's roof curiously falling down, from unknown reasons, in a brand new building on August, provoking an unprecedented transfert of the 2 September Plenary Sessions...

But it wasn't enough to stop Sarkozy ! On the contrary, it stimulated him...
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- "The better way to deal with the recent problems of EU institutions (as the "3 NO" by France, the Netherlands and Ireland) is to take them as a "Test" in order to find solutions closer to Citizens' concerns", said later in Strasbourg Sarkozy's new choice as Ministe for EU affairs, Bruno Le Maire.

- On the Institutional front, Sarkozy gave Time to the Irish to think about it, and stroke on December a deal including a New Referendum after the June 2009 EU Elections, in exchange of a promise to keep the rule of "one EU Commissioner for each EU Member Country", and some opt-outs on Defence and Fiscal EU policies, Abortion, etc. If the Irish get a "Yes" Majority, then the institutional package could be completed in 2010 or 2011 on the occasion of Croatia's probable EU accession.

He was accused in Strasbourg to upgrade EU Council and downgrade EU Commision, but he replied that "strong Political initiatives by EU Council reinforce also the more technical role of EU Commission, under the political-technical leadership of its President", all 3 "working together with EU Parliament".


- But, meanwhile, Sarkozy energetically spearheaded an Historic 1st Summit of EuroZone's 15 Heads of State and Government at EU's core, exceptionally enlarged to a partial participation of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on October 12 in Paris' Elysee palace, which started to tackle succesfully the growing world Financial crisis.

    It also paved the way for its endorsement by a subsequent Brussels' 27 EU Member States' gathering, before it all come to Washington's G-20 Summit. And "Europe was united, it asked for the 1st G-20 Summit, and it will also organise the next G-20 Summit on April in London", he observed.   

 But a Conference with EU, Russia, African and other Developing Countries, hosted in Strasbourg shortly after Washington G-20 Summit by the French EU Presidency, took a Resolution asking to enlarge participation to Global Economic Governance. Many found, indeed, illogic and unacceptable that f.ex. states as Turkey were given a seat at G-20 level, while all African Countries, and even the African Union itself, representing the greatest Continent on Earth, were excluded...


    Meanwhile, even USA''s "Paulson No 3" Plan, was, in fact, inspired by Europe's No 1 Plan", Sarkozy observed, largelly applauded by MEPs.

    And "Europe showed Solidarity" by mobilizing some 22 Billion credit for Hungary, 1,7 billion for Ukraine, as we do nowadays for Baltic States, etc., he added.

    The move on Economy was extended on December by an EU stimulus' plan totalling some 200 billion Euros, including 5 Billions released by EU Commission for big Projects, as well as various parallel National plans for Economic revival, (fex. 26 billions in France alone). They might appear limited, compared to USA President-elect Obama's reported plan to boost the American economy with 800 billion $, but at least succeded to overcome Europe's divisions for the first time on Economic governance, opening new horizons.

- The French President stressed even harder the unique role of an active EU Council's chairmanship, when he moved swiftly and efficiently, at the beginning of August, to succesfully stop War between Russia and Georgia, at the last minute, which threatened to bring Europe back to Cold War division.

"We (EU) also wanted to avoid a situation like in Bosnia, in the Past, when EU was absent, so that our American friends took their responsibilitues, and EU only followed", despite the fact that the conflict took place in Europe. Now, it was the EU who took its responsibilities".

A roadmap towards a new PanEuropean Security policy, before which all unilateral moves to place new Missiles (from USA or Russia) would be freezed, was proposed by Sarkozy after a meeting with Russian president Medvedev, at the eve of Washington DC's G-20 Summit.

Ukraine's "European" character was stressed at a Sarkozy - Jushenko Summit, September in Paris, while EU adopted on December an "Eastern policy", in which, "I'm convinced that our (EU's) future is to find with our Neighbours the conditions for Economic Development. Peace and Security, by explaining them that.. they must respect (Human Rights') Values, and adopt behaviors different from the Past", explained Sarkozy in Strasbourg.

Meanwhile, the "Union for the Mediterranean" was created, since July's Summit if 45 Heads of State and Government in Paris, as "an organisation for a permanent Dialogue, that we need", mainly in order to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by bringing together, for the 1st time, Israelis and Arabs, where "Europe must be present, in order to avoid a frontal clash".

- "If Europe doesn't take its part for Peace in the Middle-East, nobody else will do that in our place", Sarkozy stressed.
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    Meanwhile, other EU Agreements were brokered during the French EU Presidency on Immigration, (fex. common Asylum rules, etc), and Climat- Energy :

    - On Climat-Energy, the 2007 German EU Presidency had fixed a triple 20% aim for 2020 (20% renewable Energies, 20% reduction of CO2 emmission, 20% energy efficience/economies), and the 2008 French EU Presidecny realized that, making the necessary compromises in order to modernize EU's industry, but without throwing some former Central-Eastern European Countries into abrupt Economic break down risking "social explosion".

    - Defence-Security EU policy was mainly postponed for April 2009, since both German chancellor Merkel and French president Sarkozy want to strike a deal with the new American president Obama in Strasbourg's NATO Summit.

    However, with all these 4 unexpected Crisis diverting attention to other urgencies, People wil wonder now, what happened to the famous deal proposed by freshly-elected French President Sarkozy on Turkey's controversial EU bid, back on August 2007, to continue EU - Turkey negotiations, but on the double condition that core chapters, intrinsequally linked with EU Membership, will be excluded, and that a collective Reflexion and Debate on Europe's future would start before the end of 2008.

    It was meant to reply to the crucial question : What kind of Europe do we want in 10 or 20 Years from now : A large Market, or a Political Europe, with a popular identity ? In Sarkozy's thinking, presented in his 2 landmark speeches on Europe in Strasbourg, shortly before and after the 2007 Elections, (on February and July 2007), Turkey's controversial EU bid would be incompatible with the second choice.

    It's true that EU Commision's Chairman, Jose Barroso, (who had notoriously declared, as former Portuguese Prime Minister, that he found "nonsense" the idea that Europe might become equal to the US), had repeatedly tried to avoid that Sarkozy's criticism on Turkey might start winning a larger audience in Europe, preferring a discrete "wismens' committee" work. And that most of the personalities later chosen in order to participate in a Committee on Europe's Future, are too much linked with Socialist parties and/or American policies, to be really critical of USA's notorious wish to impose Turkey to the EU, as Sarkozy had noted himself since March 2007..

     - "It's on EU Council's presidency to take political initiatives. EU Commission has other competences", stressed Sarkozy. The "European Ideal" is to "build Europe with the States, not against them". "Ask Europeans to chose between their countries and Europe won't work. You don't choose between your two parents : We must add them together".

    "France and Germany have an Historic Duty to work together, precisely because of what happened to the Past. We have to work hand by hand. We cannot be separated.It goes beyond me and Mrs Merkel today, Mr Schroeder and Mr. Chirac yesterday. It's not a choice, it's a duty to Europe and to the World".  "We need Germany, as Germany needs Europe". Compromise is inevitable, here as everywhere, and each one made some steps towards eachother's positions.

    But "it's true that Mrs Merkel didn't chose her Socialist partners, while I chose mine", Sarkozy said, in an indirect hint that the Socialist Minister of Finance in Germany might be a cause of minor past disagreements in Economy, which were overcome in recent negotiations.

    "We (France and Germany) have particular duties in Europe", but "in a Europe of 27 Member States, it's not enough for France and Germany to agree between them.

    "I always thought that Great Britain has a special role to play in Europe. ... Now, everybody "saw what it cost payed the UK for having been too exclusively open towards the US (and) Financial services. Europe needs the UK, but also the UK needs Europe" :- "We were able to face the hardest moment of the Financial crisis because the UK clearly chose Europe", stressed Sarkozy, reminding Gordon Brown's exceptional participation to the Historic 1st Heads of State/Government Summit of EuroZone, October 12 in Paris (See EuroFora's Reportage from Elysee Palace then).

     - "Some look at Europe with old glasses aged 30 years ago. While we must look at her in relation to what it will be in 30 years" in the Future, Sarkozy concluded.

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