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An Alternative Media Landscape for Europe

The media industry is struggling across Europe, afflicted by a double-edged sword of the financial crisis and the consequences of the internet revolution. This has in turn hindered the availability to the general public in the EU to in-depth information on matters of key public interest.

“We don’t have to be afraid to say that news outlets simply can’t afford to function,” says Italian GUE/NGL MEP Curzio Maltese, “and that this is a problem for democracy”.

Tomorrow, the GUE/NGL group is organising “An Alternative Media Landscape for Europe” (European Parliament Brussels, Room ASP1G2, 15.00-18.30), an initiative that aims to reflect on the current situation of European journalism and hear about success stories in the transformed media landscapes from those that have made them happen.

“We don’t have to give up and let the oligarchs control the offer of information,” says MEP Stelios Kouloglou. “There are alternative models in Europe that we have to study and implement wherever possible”.

For MEP Miguel Urban, “the ongoing cases of Luxleaks, Volkswagen and the Panama papers, involving big companies, banks, politicians and other personalities, reveal to what extent we live in a corrupted system and how important is the action of the whistleblowers and independant media to guarantee the human right to information.”

Together with Julian Assange, who will be joining the debate via video conference, other journalists from crisis-ridden countries will also participate across two panels.

Giovanni Melogli from the “International Alliance of Journalists,” Gad Lerner from Italy and Panagiotis Konstantinou from Greek TVXS will discuss the current state of journalism in the first panel.

In the second panel, dedicated to success stories in a transformed media landscape, Kostas Arvanitis from Greece, Ignacio Escolar from the Spanish El Diario, and Roberta Carlini from Pagina 99 in Italy will be joined by Turkish journalist Sezin Oney.

Both panels will reflect on how to move forward from a situation where newsrooms are increasingly downsized and journalists are woefully underpaid, often left without guarantees of full-time contracts. Not only do they lack the means of conducting thorough research and investigations, but they are also left without the legal protection of large editorial groups which employ them as externals or free-lancers.

Data from the Asociación de la prensa de Madrid shows that 50 per cent of journalistic information produced in Spain comes from independent journalists, namely individuals with no fixed affiliation to a specific media institution. In Italy, the number of freelancers among journalists has grown by 750% in 20 years. In 2014, seven freelance journalists out of 10 declared an income of just 10.000 euro per year or less. In Greece the situation is even worse, with 50% of journalists now officially unemployed. Portugal has experienced significant cuts both in newsrooms and outsourced jobs alike.

By inviting representatives of media-platforms that have proved effective and economically sustainable, despite a period of sector-wide transformation, GUE/NGL wants to describe this rocky and uncertain landscape while understanding how they  are navigating in it.