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Journalists’ organisations attend training to set up new media councils in Europe

Credits: Jukka Hiiro

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Raad voor de Journalistiek, the Dutch-speaking Press Council of Belgium and the Council for Mass Media in Finland organised a workshop on 17 June in Helsinki which brought together representatives from countries planning to establish a press or media council where one does not yet exist. The workshop was attended by representatives of journalists' associations from Greece, Malta and Slovenia. In each of these countries, local journalists' associations or unions have taken the initiative to establish a press or media council.

"[The workshop] was the culmination of the process whereby Malta, Greece and Slovenia are receiving help to set up their own media councils," said Matthew Xuereb, President of the Institute of Maltese Journalists. "Greece and Slovenia are far more advanced than Malta in this respect. By end the end of summer, the grantees should receive a report and we will then start a consultation process with people in the sector, civil society and more."

As part of this, The Belgian and Finnish media councils offered their help and assistance to the parties involved. Earlier in the spring, workshops were organized in Athens, Valletta and Ljubljana, which brought together representatives of local journalists' organizations and media institutions and other stakeholders. Among other things, they organised meetings and workshops as well as prepared strategy papers, which take into account the special features of the media field and the political and cultural system of each country.

The aim of the Helsinki workshop was to give the representatives of the three countries to share their experiences and offer each other peer support in setting up a media council.

“Although the media ecosystem in the three countries is very different, we had very interesting discussions about the usefulness of a press or media council and the challenges of establishing one. All participants want to address these challenges, convinced that journalistic self-regulation is the only possible form of regulation, and that this is necessary to ensure independent, truthful and ethical journalism," said Pieter Knapen, Secretary General of the Raad voor de Journalistiek.

The workshop was co-funded by the European Commission as part of the Media Councils in the Digital Age project, coordinated by Blanquerna - Universitat Ramon Llull, of which Raad voor de Journalistiek and the Council for Mass Media in Finland are among the partners of the project.