EU ignores journalists in future-of-media brainstorm
By Philip Ebels
The European Commission on Wednesday (7 December) held its first in a round of consultation meetings about the future of the European media industry. But despite requests from journalists to join the discussion, they were kept out.
The first of an expected five meetings of the so-called EU Media Futures Forum brought together in Brussels some 16 media experts, mostly from private companies, including Belgian newspaper publisher De Persgroep and American entertainment company Walt Disney, to address "the impacts of the digital revolution on European media industries."
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The aim of the round of meetings is "to provide input to foster a pluralist media sector and quality journalism in spite of recent declining revenues."
Newspapers in particular are having a hard time, with advertising revenues drying up since the advent of the internet.
"The digital revolution is turning media upside down," said EU digital affairs commissioner Neelie Kroes in a statement. “I want out-of-the box thinking.”
Members of the forum include publishers, executives, academics and politicians. There is one "editor-in-chief", Oscar Bronner of Austrian Der Standard, the newspaper’s publisher and CEO. Members of the European Parliament and representatives of the Council of Ministers have a standing invitation to participate.
But contrary to what the press invitation suggests, the headline of which reads - "Kroes and journos debating media's digital future today" - no journalists were invited.
The European journalists trade union has reacted with frustration. "We are very disappointed," Renate Schroeder, co-director of the European Federation of Journalists, told EUobserver.
"The composition of the group is very business-minded. Even Disney is invited," she noted.
The commission, for its part, maintains that there is no problem with the lack of journalists among the members of the forum.
"It is not just about journalism, it is about media in general," explained Ryan Heath, spokesperson for commissioner Kroes. "We feel there is a good mix of people."