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Stand up for journalism

Across Europe journalists are on the march in defence of their jobs and their profession, to campaign against job losses across the industry and the “dumbing down” of the media.

In France, six journalists’ unions buried their differences in an historic show of unity when they launched a joint national campaign for independent journalism on October 4th.

In Britain, thousands of journalists have chosen the annual “bonfire night” celebration on November 5th to launch their own fireworks campaign against job losses across the industry and the „dumbing down” of the media.

On the same day in Germany, France, Italy and every other European country, thousands of journalists, reporters, editors and media staff in television, radio and the printed press will be demonstrating with protests of their own. They will petition political leaders and raise the alarm over the future of journalism, highlighting the years of neglect which have seen public confidence in traditional media reach a new low.

“This is a crisis for jobs, for quality media and for democracy,” says Arne König, the President of the European Federation of Journalists, which is co-ordinating the actions. Journalists are protesting over dramatic changes in the industry which have led to a dramatic fall in newspaper sales and shrinking audiences for prime time television news.

In the face of technological convergence and the changing habits of consumers, who are increasingly using mobile phones and computers to access information through the Internet, traditional media have cut back spending on editorial work and slashed the number of full-time jobs in journalism. In every EU country, the number of freelance and part-time workers in journalism has grown significantly as jobs have been cut and spending reduced on training and investigative reporting.

“The slash and burn tactics of employers threaten quality and standards and are making work in journalism more precarious than ever,” said Arne König. “Journalists and their unions have had enough and are determined to put quality work and decent journalism back on the media agenda.” Journalists are calling for new coalitions between media staff and civil organizations to challenge the collapse of confidence within the industry.

“This is not about special pleading for an elite group,” said König. “Quality journalism is a key factor in maintaining media pluralism and press freedom. Without it democracy itself is threatened.” One of the many protest actions on November 5th will be a “pause for press freedom”. In hundreds of newsrooms across Europe reporters and editors will stop work for five minutes from 12 noon in a co-ordinated expression of concern about the crisis in modern media. (