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On 1st Decem­ber 2010 the IHECS and its part­ners, jour­nal­ists and Euro­pean civil soci­ety rep­re­sen­ta­tives, met in a Brus­sels work­shop to elab­o­rate together a « White Paper in sup­port of civic and social Euro­pean jour­nal­ism ». Their goal? To present to the Euro­pean insti­tu­tions, espe­cially the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, polit­i­cal mea­sures that would allow a new gen­er­a­tion of jour­nal­ists to cover Euro­pean mat­ters in close con­nec­tion with regional and local information.

This exer­cise didn’t rep­re­sent any polit­i­cal move­ment or union, and was basi­cally a grass­roots dia­logue. Our reflec­tion fol­lowed three main lines:

- The nec­es­sary polit­i­cal and eco­nomic con­di­tions for pro­duc­ing plu­ral­ist information

- Jour­nal­ism train­ing and the place of Europe in school programmes

- The devel­op­ment of new links between jour­nal­ists and civil soci­ety organisations

All in all 35 pro­pos­als were passed at the end of a series of rich exchanges: a con­crete ini­tial result. Nev­er­the­less, par­tic­i­pants decided to carry on and widen the debate.

Thanks to sup­port from the Charles Leopold Mayer Foun­da­tion for the Progress of Humankind the web­site Socialeuropeanjournalism.com was born, pro­vid­ing a blog space to reflect on Euro­pean jour­nal­ism, and an online forum was opened for six months, until July 15th, 2011.

Each week a proposal/question from the White Paper was sub­jected to debate. Spon­ta­neous dis­cus­sions were com­ple­mented by more elab­o­rated inter­views with jour­nal­ists and NGO representatives.

Analysing and bring­ing together those dif­fer­ent points of view led us to select ten flag­ship pro­pos­als, to take to the Mem­bers of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, dur­ing a debate which took place on 8 November 2011.

But one thing is sure. This Com­mu­ni­ca­tion to the EP does not mean the chap­ter is closed and Euro­pean jour­nal­ism still faces many chal­lenges that neddd to be met by means of grass­roots dia­logue on three facts and three cor­re­pond­ing requisites:

Fact #1: The unequal access to Euro­pean infor­ma­tion is a symp­tom of a gen­er­ally unequal access to good polit­i­cal cov­er­age in the media. The grow­ing sub­mis­sion of media organ­i­sa­tions to the rat­ings law (media sat­u­ra­tion), the nor­mal­i­sa­tion of casual labour within the sec­tor, and the inad­e­quate fund­ing for pub­lic ser­vices and com­mu­nity media, have seri­ously attacked polit­i­cal and cul­tural plu­ral­ism within the media. Req­ui­site #1: We urgently need to cre­ate the legal and eco­nomic con­di­tions capa­ble of pro­tect­ing con­tent pluralism.

Fact #2: Very few jour­nal­ists have received train­ing on how to cover infor­ma­tion about Europe. And Europe as a whole is also hugely lack­ing in pri­mary and sec­ondary school pro­grammes.Req­ui­site #2: Efforts have to be made in the field of education.

Fact #3: Jour­nal­ists who want to cover Euro­pean ques­tions at the local level have dif­fi­culty find­ing any con­crete sources of infor­ma­tion besides the insti­tu­tional ones. The cur­rent aim of many cit­i­zen organ­i­sa­tions through­out Europe is pre­cisely to human­ise and open the debate about Euro­pean poli­cies. Req­ui­site #3: Cre­ate bet­ter links between the media and the lives of cit­i­zens in order to stim­u­late pub­lic debate.

But Socialeuropeanjournalism.com does not stop here

With a new appear­ance, the web­site car­ries on, aim­ing at:

- offer­ing and con­fronting views on Euro­pean media and media policies,

- high­light­ing inter­est­ing media ini­tia­tives and inno­v­a­tive leg­is­la­tions, not only in EU but all over the world,

- encour­ag­ing read­ers to inter­act, com­ment and sub­mit their own arti­cles on the website,

- propos­ing con­crete polit­i­cal mea­sures for the emer­gence and the strength­en­ing of a plu­ral­ist, inde­pen­dent, social and civic Euro­pean journalism.

The debate is not frozen. Let’s take part in it !