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J@YS 10th Anniversary Debate: “Will Journalism Survive?”

12 July 2011 | PROJECT NEWS

 

On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, Journalists at Your Service (J@YS), a help centre and information hub for journalists covering Brussels and the EU on 22 June 2011 held a debate entitled “The way forward for journalism in Europe” at the International Press Centre in Brussels. 

Taking part in the debate were Beth Costa, General Secretary of International Federation of Journalists, Christopher Berg, a reporter for the newly launched European Daily paper, Gareth Harding, Brussels programme director of the Missouri School of Journalism, and freelance journalist Rafael Porto-Carrero. J@YS President Maria Laura Franciosi moderated the discussion, which gathered an audience of about 25 guests. 

Educating journalists about EU topics 

Franciosi opened the debated by raising the importance of educating journalists about EU topics and institutions. “That is the way to increase and encourage accurate reporting of EU affairs,” she said. “And that’s what J@YS stands for,” she added. 

J@YS recently launched a newly designed website and published the latest edition of “Reporting Brussels” (pdf), a pocket book containing information sources and tools to help journalists write EU related stories. 

New opportunities 

Panel and audience members alike seemed to share an optimistic outlook on the future of journalism. Beth Costa cautioned that that there would be no easy path to overcome the present difficulties, but was hopeful for the future: “New media are offering new possibilities, and journalists will have their place in the new world.” Rafael Porto Carrero, a freelance journalist working for various news organisations in Brussels agreed with Costa: “There will be lots of opportunities for young generations who are digitally natives and multi-media savvy.”

The future of European journalism 

The discussion continued by addressing the future of European journalism with a presentation of a new European media initiative, the European Daily. Christopher Berg, a reporter for the European Daily, introduced the paper as “the first daily newspaper aiming for European readers.” On 15 June 2011, the European Daily published 40,000 copies of its first printed edition. Berg explained that there are at least 15 to 20 million Europeans who travel all around Europe and who need to be informed on a daily basis about European news from a European perspective. 

Gareth Harding, Brussels programme director for the Missouri School of Journalism, praised the paper’s “ambitious” mission. “With the expansion of the EU and the widespread usage of English and internet which helps to break down borders, there is definitely a market for European media outlets,” he said. Harding pointed out however that primary loyalties of European citizens’ might still lie with national and local viewpoints, making it hard for European media to find a mass audience. “I hope the European Daily succeeds,” he said.

How to connect European citizens to EU issues? 

According to Harding, European media have to overcome important challenges. Their primal task would be to “explain to their readers and viewers why events in other European countries matter to them and can affect their life.” He illustrated his point with the examples of the Greek Euro crisis and the recent E. Coli outbreak. 

Ole Aabenhus, a Denmark journalist who was sitting in the audience, commented that rather than media efforts covering all 27 EU countries, “the public needs a platform that bridges a few European countries together.” Naturally, it is easier to point out issues and make suggestion than to engage in real reform. If it were so simple to create a new journalism model, there would not be any need for this type of debate. “If you ask me if I have a solution, I would answer no,” said Costa. “There is not one solution and we are facing a big challenge. But we should see this as a big opportunity for the future,” she added. The question we need to answer now is: Who will grab this opportunity and find the path to save journalism? 

Text and photographs by Taein Park, EJC intern

Project:
Journalists @ Your Service
An information hub and resource centre for journalists in Brussels, J@YS aims to provide media professionals working on EU affairs both professional assistance in their coverage of events in Brussels, and personal counseling concerning their careers and particular working and living conditions in the heart of the Europe’s administrative capital.