13 februari 2006

EU Commission Wants Media Code on Reporting on Islam. Or Not ? (Law & Justice)

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph on Thursday 9 February, Mr Franco Frattini, the vice-President of the European Commission and the EU Commissioner for Justice, Freedom, and Security, argued that the cartoons in Danish paper Jyllands-Posten "humiliated" millions of muslims, calling on journalists and media chiefs to accept that "the exercising of a right is always the assumption of a responsibility". He appealed to European media to agree to "self-regulate".
"Accepting such self-regulation would send an important political message to the Muslim world", Mr Frattini said.

In December, Mr. Frattini already had called the publication of the twelve cartoons (see them here, halfway down the page) “thoughtless and inappropriate” and that “these kinds of drawings can add to the growing Islamophobia in Europe. I fully respect the freedom of speech, but, excuse me, one should avoid making any statement like this, which only arouses and incites to the growing radicalisation.”

Mr. Frattini now thinks the journalist of The Daily Telegraph misconstrued what he said in the interview of 9 February. He issued a press release, explaining his side of the story and concluding:

"I have never suggested imposing a code of conduct on the press, it is up to the media themselves to self-regulate or not, and it is up to the media to formulate such a voluntary code of conduct if it is found necessary, appropriate and useful by them. There have never been, nor will there be any plans by the European Commission to have some sort of EU regulation, nor is there any legal basis for doing so."

But David Rennie, the journalist who had spoken with him, reacted and posted the full transcript of the tape with the interview:

"It is a matter of fact that we have to react with an obvious condemnation of violence, but on the other hand to offer to them a way out, an appropriate solution. The code of conduct is self-regulation, but it would be if agreed, a positive message, also a political message, if I may say, to the Muslim world, by accepting in principle this point of the responsibility together with the freedom of expression.

The press will give the Muslim world the message: we are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression, we can and we are ready to self-regulate our right. It is not the right of the European institutions, it is not the right of the Muslim people to unilaterally demand or regulate the freedom of expression, but the right of the press itself to regulate, that is the idea."

The International Federation of Journalists has criticised that the European Union may be preparing a code of conduct for media in the wake of the worldwide cartoons row. “Reports that the European Union is getting into the business of trying to prepare an ethical code for journalists are plain wrong,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “We have already made it clear to Brussels officials that this will be unacceptable to everyone in media and they have agreed to encourage a professional dialogue but not to start drawing up codes or guidelines. That is the responsibility of media professionals alone.

The fact that the European political establishment is asking the press to behave as a tool for EU policies meets a lot of criticism (see amongst others Leon de Winter, wretchard).

Question: why is it that a lot of people are turning away from the mainstream media and start reading blogs when they are looking for mere facts and news?

Answer: "You Guys Have Blown It". I agree.

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