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Media freedom and EU coverage: related challenges?


09 Mar 2011


Public Affairs

Fondation EurActiv PoliTech is launching a blog debate today and planning a stakeholder workshop in June on media freedom and independent journalism. Both initiatives are intended to discuss how – and how frequently – journalists cover EU policy debates. The debate is hosted on, the social media platform dedicated to EU policies.
These activities come in the context of controversy surrounding government relations with media in several European countries – including Hungary, Italy and Turkey – and of the role played by traditional and online media in recent unrest across the Arab world.
The blog debate and the workshop will complement coverage by and its media affiliates in 12 countries, looking ahead to the first European Citizens’ Initiatives in 2012 and the 2014 European Parliament elections.
Fondation EurActiv PoliTechruns the training and social media activities of the EurActiv family. It is guided by an Advisory Council, recently joined by Peter Kramer, international secretary-general of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ), which gathers national and regional journalists covering EU matters. Aidan White, outgoing secretary-general of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) - which groups together journalist unions around the world – has also been invited to join the Council and welcomes the initiative.
Peter Kramer said, "with upcoming European Citizens’ Initiatives, coverage of Europe will increase, but we will hear the good, the bad and the ugly. It is important that journalists themselves help to put things into perspective, therefore that they are well-trained and informed. The AEJ and it's 25 national chapters in the EU and its neighbourhood are willing to help".
Aidan White declared, "the challenges facing journalists in Europe are dramatically put into context by the struggles for press freedom south of the Mediterranean. This initiative is an opportunity to create a professional bridge of good practice that will strengthen journalism in the EU and inspire journalists striving for independence elsewhere".
Christophe Leclercq, EurActiv’s founder, said, "journalists are faced with both government restrictions in some countries and the limited resources of their media companies, as exemplified by the dwindling EU press corps. Except for justified and competitive advertising or communication projects, the EU should not fund media companies. But the EU, among others, can help on both fronts. First, by taking a firm line on media freedom at national level. Second, it could develop and improve its programmes to make journalists aware, well-informed and well-supported when they do cover European matters".
Regarding the Foundation’s social media department, Leclercq added: "Social media tools could help journalists find mutual support, so they can identify stories they find relevant and leverage sources across borders. In the Arab world, this has worked efficiently in recent weeks: why not more so in Europe itself?"
Daniel van Lerberghe, social media director at the Foundation and founder of PoliTech, stated: "European Citizens’ Initiatives, coming with the Lisbon Treaty, are not just about counting ‘votes’ on petitions. They will lead to wider policy debates, catching journalists’ attention."
His colleague Joe Litobarski, BlogActiv manager and also co-editor of Bloggingportal, explained: "We will be opening the debate today, on, with a post inspired from this release. All ideas are welcome, notably practical suggestions. For example, how about opening future EU information sessions to high-profile bloggers? How can we make them more lively, involving different institutions and various stakeholders? Could focused financial support be managed by media organisations? Which organisations? The most relevant contributions will be circulated ahead of the stakeholder workshop that we’re planning."
Media contacts:
Christophe Leclercq, Publisher,, Tel. +32(0),
Radu Magdin, Communication Manager, Tel: + 32(0)2.788.36.88,
Julian Oliver, Secretary General, Fondation EurActiv PoliTech, Tel. +32(0),
Note to the editor:
Relevant EurActiv coverage on media freedom:
- Hungary: Brussels happy with Hungary's pledges on media law
- Turkey: Füle slams Turkey on media freedom
- Italy: Media experts urge 'reconquest' on press freedom
- Press freedom debate: Media experts urge 'reconquest' on press freedom
Websites of organisations mentioned:
- Association of European Journalists
- International Federation of Journalists

BlogActiv is EurActiv’s blogging platform, available at . Fondation EurActiv PoliTech has integrated in a social media department the activities of PoliTech and The Fondation produced the Yellow Paper on communication policy available here. is the independent online media network dedicated to EU policy, counting 609,000 monthly unique visitors together with the Web 2.0 platform

Set up in 1999, the EurActiv network is an important working instrument for actors (press, institutions, industry federations, NGOs, think tanks, and others) involved in defining or influencing or covering EU policies. The EurActiv Network publishes EU policy news and information in 12 languages from offices in the capitals of 12 European countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, United Kingdom and Turkey. The Network's national policy portals are accessible here


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