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IRIS 2010-10:1/11

European Parliament

Resolution on Journalism and New Media - Creating a Public Sphere in Europe

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Tarlach McGonagle

Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam

On 7 September 2010, the European Parliament (EP) adopted its Resolution on journalism and new media - creating a public sphere in Europe. In doing so, the EP is revisiting one of its recurrent, long-standing preoccupations: the question of how to improve the communication of information about the activities of the European institutions to the citizens of Europe. As in the past, possible roles for the media, in light of the latest technological advances and resultant changes in communicative practices, are central to the present enquiry.

The substantive part of the Resolution is structured in sections entitled: ‘Member States’ (paras. 8-13); ‘Media and the EU’ (paras. 14-26); ‘Public service media’ (paras. 27-30); ‘EU/local’ (paras. 31-33); ‘European Parliament’ (paras. 34-39), and ‘Journalism and new media’ (paras. 40-46).

First, the role of Member States in terms of involvement in EU policy-making and of disseminating information about EU affairs is explained. The relationship between the media and the EU is then explored. Attention is drawn to a number of practices and considerations which help to give shape to this relationship, like special training schemes for journalists on EU matters, “the importance of Euronews extending its range of languages to cover all EU Member States” and the ability of “social media” to reach younger audiences.

In respect of public service media, the EP “stresses”, inter alia, “that national and regional public service broadcasters have a particular responsibility to inform the public about politics and policy-making at EU level”. It also underscores the need for Member States to ensure the independence of public service broadcasters. It emphasises the need for public service media to embrace new media technologies “so as to increase their credibility via open public participation”.

The measures envisaged for the European Parliament centre primarily on the publicity strategies of its information offices.

Lastly, in the section, ‘Journalism and new media’, the EP “stresses that Member States must come up with viable concepts for the EU media that go beyond merely passing on information and enable them to contribute fully to the EU’s cultural and linguistic diversity”. It recognises the usefulness of social networks as “a relatively good way of disseminating information rapidly”, but queries their reliability, amongst other (stated) reasons because “sources cannot always be sufficiently guaranteed and they cannot be considered to be professional media”. It “emphasises the importance of drawing up a code of ethics applicable to new media”. The EP “highlights the crucial role of journalists in a modern society faced with a barrage of information, since they alone can bring significant added value to information by using their professionalism, ethics, skill and credibility to make sense of the news”.

European Parliament, Resolution on journalism and new media - creating a public sphere in Europe, Doc. No. 2010/2015(INI), 7 September 2010 EN