EU Journalist or Propagandist?
From the desk of Elaib Harvey on Fri, 2008-02-15 19:23
Yesterday I received a copy of an open letter from Aidan White, the General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). And very odd it was. It talked about the idea of a new journalist registration system, with Mr White pointing out that such a thing already exists in the shape of the IFJ card.
I write on behalf of the International Federation of Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists concerning a current discussion within European Union circles over the issuing of a specific European Press Card.
You might like to know that there is already an accreditation in circulation which is recognised by the major organisations of journalists throughout the European Union – the International Press Card of the IFJ.
The IFJ International Press Card (IPC) is the world’s oldest and most reputable press accreditation and provides instant confirmation that the bearer is a working journalist. It is only issued to genuine journalists who are committed to ethical standards and solidarity between media professionals.
Despite his job Mr White is no radical, and often seems pretty tardy on issues relating to press freedom, however here he is bang on. I immediately picked up the phone to the IFJ and spoke to them.
Indeed this letter seems to be a shot across the bows of the Commission. There are discussions going on in the Commission, (but at this point I and nor do the IFJ know how high up they go) about the creation of an European Press Card.
The ramifications of this could be massive. It could mean that it would be the Commission which could decide which journalist were ‘proper’ journalists and which were not. I know personally of journalists who have been threatened and arrested on the say so of European officials. They are accused of publishing inaccuracies, they are told that ‘what they write does not represent the interests of their newspapers’. I know of newspapers that have had their advertisers phoned by the Commission’s legal team with suggestions about how the Commission is represented in the paper, and how it would be helpful if they were to have a quiet word with editorial team. I remember when Alessandro Buttice the lawyer who represents OLAF as its press spokesman sent out a 16 page document to the Brussels’ press corps advising them of how they should report EU news.
Access to Commissioners and officials could be restricted to those on the Commission list. Today there is European Institutional press accreditation, but any journalist who is vouched for by an editor is accepted. This new idea has a strong suggestion that the Commission itself will do the vetting not the news organisation and must be opposed as vigorously as possible.
I cannot emphasise how serious this could be.