Exploitation of freelance journalists is a threat to our democracy

By Renate Schroeder, Director of the European Federation of Journalists The gap between the incomes of the diminishing number of journalists with stable contracts and the growing band of freelances in Europe is getting bigger. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and its Freelance Expert Group (FREG) are appalled by this worsening situation. Such unfair pay practices cannot continue, since an increasing proportion of editorial content is written and produced by freelance journalists. This has an impact on the quality of journalism and, in the end, on democracy itself. That is why the EFJ has been supporting the ETUC’s PayRise…

Study reveals one-third of Montenegrin journalism students don’t want to work in the media

A survey carried out by the EFJ affiliate in Montenegro, the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro (SMCG), about the exptectations of journalism students in Montenegro showed that a majority of respondents do not plan to work as a journalist after their studies. Almost 90% of surveyed students believe that getting a job in the profession will not be easy. About a third of Montenegrin journalism students do not see themselves working in this profession in the future – instead they see themselves in public relations (PR) or some other jobs. “Half of the journalism students would love to work at TV stations,…

Freedom of expression deteriorates in EU candidate countries, shows EU progress reports

The European Commission published on 17 April 2018 its annual Enlargement Package, including the country reports (formerly known as “progress reports”), assessing the implementation of the European Union’s enlargement policy regarding the accession process of the Western Balkans and Turkey. These country reports shows alarmingly precarious working conditions of journalists as the level of press freedom deteriorates further. In four countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia) no progress has been achieved in the area of press freedom. Issues of attacks on journalists, defamation cases media ownership, lack of funding of the public service broadcasters and self-censorship prevail. Some of…

Turkey: A trial where the ‘crime’ is journalism and the only ‘evidence’ is journalistic activities

Joint Statement on the Cumhuriyet trial: 28 media freedom and freedom of expression organisations call on the institutions of the Council of Europe and its member states to remind Turkey of its international obligation to respect and protect human rights. We, the undersigned freedom of expression and human rights organisations, strongly condemn last night’s guilty verdicts for staff and journalists of Cumhuriyet newspaper and note the harsh sentences for the defendants. The verdict further demonstrates that Turkey’s justice system and the rule of law is failing: this was a trial where the ‘crime’ was journalism and the only ‘evidence’ was…

European Commission’s plan to tackle online disinformation

The European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, presented today (26/04/2018) the Communication on “tackling online disinformation”. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomes the commitment of the European Union to call on member states for significant financial support for independent news media, fact- and source-checking, and media and information literacy. The European Federation of Journalistes strongly believes that quality journalism and a sustainable media ecosystem are the best antidotes to disinformation. The European Commission recognises the key role played by online platforms in the spread and amplification of online disinformation, deeply affecting journalists and media outlets. It…

Young journalists in Germany demand better pay for better journalism

A delegation of about 20 young German journalists together with the Deutscher Journalisten-Verband (DJV) and Deutsche Journalisten Union (dju in ver.di) met with publishers to demand better working conditions on 25 April 2018 in Berlin. They insisted that publishers have to invest in the future generation of journalists or the “generation Erasmus” will leave and with them the young topics that attract young readers. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) strongly supports the demands for investing in young journalists. This happened in the context of very difficult negotiations between the unions, DJV and dju in ver.di and the publishers association…

Turkey: Cumhuriyet journalists and executives heavily convicted for changes in “editorial policy”

On Wednesday (25/05/2018), the court in Silivri (Turkey) severely convicted 13 journalists and executives from the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet to jail sentences between two to eight years. The court is convinced that editorial policy changes adopted by the newspaper were aimed at helping multiple illegal terrorist organisations in Turkey. All the defendants have been released pending the confirmation of the jail sentences by the upper court. The judge also ordered the release of Cumhuriyet chairman Akin Atalay who had been in jail for 532 days until yesterday. “As we always say they cannot intimidate Cumhuriyet newspaper which will continue to…

EU conference on digital sector: policymakers and citizens join forces to shape digital future

A High Level Conference “Shaping our digital future” brought together around 600 participants including MEPs, ministers and citizens to discuss challenges and opportunities of the digital sector on 25 April in Brussels. The event was jointly organised by the European Parliament and the European Commission in the light of the rapidly changing digital landscape to enter into a dialogue with policy makers and citizens about Europe’s digital future. Four panels discussed the following topics: Investing in connectivity and the data economy infrastructure (5G, High Performance Computing, Artificial Intelligence) and avoiding a digital divide Innovation in the digital age based on…

Whistleblower directive: the European Commission takes “an important step” but improvement on public reporting yet to be made

On 23 April, the European Commission issued a proposal for a directive on the protection of persons reporting on breaches of Union law. This is an important step in acknowledging the crucial importance of the protection of whistleblowers against intimidation and retaliation in European democracies. The proposed directive emphasises the important role of whistleblowers as journalistic sources for investigative journalism, allowing the industry to fulfil its ‘watchdog’ role. It also acknowledges that sufficient whistleblower protection is needed to ensure the freedom of expression as well as the public’s right to access information and media freedom. This is indeed crucial as…