High-profile conference urges preservation of quality journalism
The two-day international conference, organised by the Culture Ministry and the Council of Europe, was opened by Culture Minister Zoran Poznič, who is concerned by the erosion of quality journalism, the precarious social situation of journalists and increasingly concentrated media ownership, also in Slovenia.
The minister said a point had been reached where the existence of free, trustworthy and pluralistic media could no longer be taken for granted.
A keynote address was also delivered by the head of the CoE's Information Society Department Patrick Penninckx, who sees the loss of trust in the media as a key issue in the digitalisation of the media space.
He highlighted the importance of traditional media, saying they remained the main source of reliable information. Crucial for restoring trust will be the survival of quality journalism committed to professional standards and ethical values.
The first of what will be a total of five panels at the conference examined the role of quality journalism in the modern media landscape.
Calls were made for more action on the part of nation states and the EU for protecting such journalism, for recognising it as a public good allowing the preservation of democracy, and for protecting journalists targeted by hate speech and other forms of pressure.
Estelle Cognacq, an editor at Radio France, who argued for investigative journalism as a pillar of media quality, pointed to the need to detect false information, a key factor undermining trust, but she acknowledged that the exponential growth in the amount of information presented a major challenge.
The Legal Director of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) Richard Burnley moreover highlighted the importance of journalistic autonomy in a time of growing political and economic pressure.
Borut Mekina, a journalist for the Slovenian weekly Mladina, warned that market principles did not favour quality journalism and raised the challenge of finding a business model that would allow it to survive.
The conference features representatives of various stakeholders and experts involved in the media landscape. It is also meant to produce a draft proposal to member states on how to secure a favourable environment for quality journalism in the digital age.