Challenge for Europe

Information is not a neutral market good, it is a common good working for our general interest. It is an integral part of democracy in practice. To face up to the deontological drift of the media, one hundred countries in the world have created authorities for the ethical regulation of information and journalism. Numerous European countries are fortunate enough to be among them. Yet in France, journalists have still refused its creation.

Often called “press councils,” this mediating authority between the press and its public is an observatory for good (and bad) practices and a space for public debate; a place of equitable research; a pedagogical tool of civic innovation on the functioning of the media. It encourages a process that reinforces journalistic independence and allows for the regulation of journalistic activity in the name of quality. This “press council” therefore has multiple functions and is more than simply a supervisory council for journalists like many people think.

Such an entity should ideally be composed of:

– journalists, the primary holders of responsibility for the quality of information, as recognized by a specific statute in law.

– Editors of the press (all forms of media), responsible for the “final product” through which information is brought to the public, and co-holders of the responsibility for quality according to the courts.

– Representatives of the reading public, so that they can exercise their right to quality information.

These independent national authorities, created in numerous countries across Europe, were reunited in 1999 in the Alliance of Independent European Press Councils who organize an annual meeting. It would be interesting if this Alliance could serve as a starting point for the creation of a common observatory that would lead transversal work and offer a space for debate and reflection.

Proposal

Create a European observatory for mediation and journalistic deontology with a direct link to the Alliance of Independent European Press Councils. Beyond the functions of regulation and mediation assured by the national press councils, the observatory would be responsible for following criticism of professional practices, working to keep a watch on deonotology, creating a space of debate and reflection on ethical questions, and for developing pedagogical tools for professionals and non-professionals working with information.

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