Tag: media (page 1 of 3)

BBC news, UKIP-style

Today, the Migration Advisory Committee published a 358-page report titled: “Migrants in low-skilled work: the growth of EU and non-EU labour in low-skilled jobs and its impact on the UK” Well, it’s a huge report,  difficult to summarise with – potentially – a lot of interesting findings, here is quick summary of what the report covers (p.279):

The first part (Chapters 2 to 4) is a review of the evidence around migrants in low-skilled work and the evolution of the wider labour market for low – skilled employment over the previous 15 years;

The second part (Chapters 5 and 6) looks at how employers recruit migrant workers and whether there are any issues with the compliance and enforcement of relevant rules and regulations;

The third part (Chapters 7 to 9) focuses on, respectively, the impact of migrants in low-skilled work on the labour market, the wider economy and the social environment.

A second quote to clarify the scope of the ‘recommendations’ at the end of the report (p. 279-292):

We do not make specific policy recommendations as the evidence was not sufficiently developed to enable us to do this. Rather, we make suggestions as to where the focus of policy on the area of migrant low – skilled employment should be

I don’t want to look into the content of the report (as I have not finished reading it) but for now let’s remember some simple facts: The report is about the impact of EU and non-EU immigration  on the  lUK abour market – in particular relating to low skilled workers –  over the past 15 years or so. And there are no recommendations as such. And the first part is pretty much a literature review.

Although there are no recommendations as such it is interesting to  skim through the conclusions (Chapter 10, “Areas for policy focus”) to get an idea what sort of issues are part of the ‘conclusions’ of the report:

  • Recruitment, and compliance and enforcement
  • Labour market outcomes for the native population, especially for younger groups
  • Greater recognition of, and support for, the local impacts of migration
  • The role of institutions and other public policies
  • Flows of migrants into low-skilled work in the future
  • The role of evidence in the wider migration debate

So how does the media report such a complex report?  Well, let’s listen to a snippet from the BBC:

 

 

So why did the BBC decide that the main (!) conclusion of the report is  linked to future (!) EU enlargement (it is mentioned in one paragraph)?  Why use the the phrase “combined population of  84 Million”?  The number includes  75 Million Turkish citizens; and we all know that  there are only minimal chances that Turkey will become a EU member state anytime soon. And most importantly, why copy UKIP’s implicit claim that all people who live in those countries would eventually look for jobs in the UK? This is pretty poor journalism for the BBC as it simply does not reflect the depth of the report.

Another problem is the nature of those news items. The recording above is taken from one of those very short (1.30m) news programmes on BBC 6 music that is repeated every hour or so. It is arguably not the most important radio station in the UK but other music channels have exactly the same kind of approach  to news formats. And it is probably  one of the main news sources for many casual listeners. It’s a perfect example how the news can shape the public discourse – and how bad journalism can fuel euroscepticism. People listen to music stations for much longer than they listen to news programmes – and they have to listen to the same 1m 30 news format for a whole afternoon. So not only is this 40 seconds piece above one of the main news items it is also repeated  several times a day – and what do you remember at the end of the day?

Migration = bad, EU enlargement = bad, 84 Million people will come to the UK…

As with many of those complex reports you could also come to the opposite conclusion – and find other interesting angles, here are just a few examples: Migrants had a modest impact impact on the labour market, but there was a positive net contribution of EAA migrants. There is not much evidence to suggest that benefit tourism actually exists.  Most low skilled migrants are not from the EU. It was also noted that different areas in the UK are more affected than others – and that some local councils/government departments were not helpful in preparing the report.  Contrary to some gossip there was also no indication of discrimination against UK workers – but a worrying trend of general non-compliance and non-enforcement of rules in the low-wage labour market in the UK. In fact the lax rules of the UK labour market are mentioned  several times. The report also laments the gap between public perceptions of migration and the reality…

The BBC is one of the few news outlet that explicitly focuses on the future (!) enlargement angle. Not even the Telegraph or the Daily Mail do this as this (rather unrepresentative) overview of UK media coverage shows (also a good illustration of how various papers report migration issues):

Guardian: EU migrants ‘not hitting UK school-leavers’ job prospects’

Telegraph: Britain ‘struggling to cope’ with immigration, says official report

The Independent:  Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons’ employment, say government advisers

Daily Mail: Mass immigration to parts of Britain HAS driven down wages of the poor and put pressure on services, official report finds

Evening Standard:  Schools ‘fuel migration by failing less able children’

Reuters: Parts of Britain struggling with immigration, say government advisers

Bloomberg: U.K. Local Authorities Need More Help With Migrants, Panel Says

Still no pan-European media. Are we nuts?

Interesting talk by Wolfgang Blau.

Reporting Europe Prize 2013

The Reporting Europe Prize is back and nominations are open! Please nominate the best pieces of EU reporting/journalism via the official website: UACES is looking for an outstanding blogpost, a great newspaper article, or a particularly good radio or TV piece.  New forms of journalism are also highly valued. It is the only independent journalism prize that is exclusively dedicated to journalism about the European Union.

reportingeurope2013

 

 

 

 

FAQs (that are not covered on the official website):

Why only in English?

It is simply an issue of resources. UACES is financially and organizationally not in a position to do pan-European selection process. If you are a sponsor or an organisation that would like to change this get in touch and we see what can be done.

Why is the award ceremony in London?

UACES is based in London. Although it is a European association its roots are in British academia which explains the UK focus of its work.

Does UACES have a political agenda regarding the EU?

No – it is academic membership association providing services to academics that work in the field of European Studies.

Disclaimer: Yours truly is a member of the UACES committee and  will serve on the jury this year.

Kosmolinks #22

Cameron at the Mercy of European Events

Excellent piece by Simon Nixon on David Cameron, the Tories and Europe. The lack of any coherent EU strategy and the focus on short term gains has left David Cameron at the mercy of events – and in the hand of his eurosceptic backbenchers.

Don’t Blame the Euro Mess for Britain’s Plight

Please note the disclaimer at the end of the article. But the point remains valid: “U.K. policy makers should stop blaming the economy’s plight on the crisis in the euro zone and engage in deeper soul-searching about the country’s enduring economic weakness. Britain’s economy has actually shrunk fractionally more over the past year than the euro zone’s has. Over the past two years, the euro zone’s economy has grown by a total of 1.1%, Britain’s by only 0.2%.”

(PS: Two excellent pieces on Britain and the EU in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal. Interesting)

Europe at a crossroads: what kind of Europe do we want?.

William Hague makes the case that we need ‘flexible European integration’ to embrace ‘diversity’. He also thinks that “less is more” and that the European Parliament is useless – oh – and that the UK is interested in EU Foreign Policy (he did not mention the Canada embassy sharing story and the constant undermining of the EEAS)  But nevertheless,  it is his first substantial speech on Europe in quite a while and he is surprisingly pragmatic and polite (quite an achievement!).  Read it – it is a good summary of what the British government is trying to do.

Media coverage of the European Union is key to understanding eurosceptic attitudes within the UK

Interesting research project by Benjamin Hawkins on the British media debate on the EU:  “There are two principal frames evident within eurosceptic discourse: the EU as a foreign power and the EU as a bargaining forum.”

3loggingportal.eu

Three years of bloggingportal. And what a journey it has been. I remember sitting around a huge table in a flat in Brussels – with a certain Jon Worth and the (back then) mysterious Brusselsblogger – dreaming up something that is now known as bloggingportal. Well, resources were scarce and it took us only another year to launch the actual website in January 2009.  As I said at a conference a few years ago: “Three people, one idea, no money” (hey – I always wanted to quote myself in a blog post!)

Ironically I am blogging this while sitting at exactly the same (and now truly) legendary table in a flat in London… Well, in many ways I would not be here without bloggingportal and all the people I met through the project. So thanks a lot for all your help and support!

We have learnt a lot over the last three years – especially how not to do things. But I guess this is how it has to be. The problem is still the same: We are a bunch of enthusiastic people without a real structure, without money and without much time on our hands. It is a bit like herding anarchist and hungry cats…

So what does the future hold for bloggingportal? I  blogged about our problems in the past and called for a bigger EU blogosphere. As you can imagine not much has been solved – although EU blogging has arguably grown somehwat. To get an idea about the debate on the future of bloggingportal head over to BrusselsbloggerRonny Patz  and Mathew Lowry’s Tagsmanian Devil who all have written more substantial blog posts on the issue.

If you are reading this and you are thinking “well this blogginportal stuff may be a fun thing to do…” – why not get in touch ?  I think we do need people with fresh ideas who are motivated to invest some time in developing the website as well as the bloggingportal concept (whatever that is…). Because it is simple: The media landscape has changed, blogging has changed – even the EU has changed (well, ok this is  debatable!). So maybe bloggingportal needs to change too!

PS. I am not dead – honest. Pseudo-regular blogging resumes as soon as possible… (Reason: new job in London & flat-hunting)

The UK and the European Union: A difficult relationship

There has been a lot of talk about the UK’s role in the EU lately. First the backbenchers’ rebellion in the House of Commons, then Cameron’s attempts to define EU policy (aiming at a “repatriation of powers”) and now a Labour debate on how to deal with Europe.  Moreover, EU member states are increasingly critical towards the UK (Sarkozy’s remarks are just one example). But what exactly are the problems of the UK’s approach to the EU?

The following text is a collection of unorganised and incoherent thoughts. Probably I should have written two proper essays or 5 blog posts. But I was too lazy and put everthing in one long blog post. It is also the result of living in the UK for the last several years and includes a mix of commentary about recent events but also more general points that I find interesting in the UK’s approach to the EU. Everything, as usual, unfinished and exaggerated and ‘thought’ in progress.  Sorry for the lack of links – might include some in the coming days.

What are the underlying problems of the UK-EU relationship?

First of all, there are several underlying problems worth mentioning.

It seems to me that generally there is limited  trust among UK decision makers in the politics and implementation efforts of other EU member states as well as EU institutions.  Take for example the Schengen opt-out which basically tells the rest of the EU: We don’t trust you to secure the external border efficiently.  Another example is the recent obsession with supranational court decisions (albeit mainly the Council of Europe) but it follows the same line of thought. Foreign judges can’t possibly be as good as our judges. Another example is the European Parliament: The idea that  foreign MEPs (that are also elected!) are involved in shaping legislation is seen as a strange concept. Everything should be done in Westminster. Other democratically elected bodies are not good enough – because they are not British (an implicit assumption behind a lot of arguments). It is the focus on theses issues instead of looking at how the UK is involved in certain international bodies which makes public debates so hideous.

Furthermore the political culture of the UK seems to have a problem with the concept of ‘compromise’ and ‘negotiations’ which is vital for European institutions. The media also loves zero sum games – which does not help to frame the issue.  This may have to do with the two party system and the missing tradition to form coalitions but it may well be laziness to understand complex issues. And even the governing coalition does not seem be able to communicate the nature and the necessity of ‘compromises’ in a convincing way.

The UK suffers from a political superiority complex. Especially politicians and commentators do not seem to understand that (1) the empire is gone – and will not come back, that (2) you can learn something from other countries (3) the war is over. All those tendencies create the impression of the “little Englanders” with a funny “island mentality”. Interestingly, the life in the UK is more cosmopolitan than in other parts of the EU and the majority of the population is very liberal and open-mindend. I think this is the real disconnect between the elite and the citizens in the UK.

At the same time, UK citizens are disconnected from the EU not only because Brussels is 2 hours away from London.  No – the UK government secured opt-outs in virtually all areas which could  benefit citizens directly and make the EU  more visible in everyday life: no Euro, no Schengen, no social rights, no fundamental rights…  It is not a surprise that citizens will not be interested, let alone develop trust in EU cooperation. The EU is reduced to a theoretical concept of a trade bloc. This mixed with a hostile media and attention seeking politicians will give you what is commonly described as “‘euroscepticism’.

There is obviously a huge problem with the way how UK media report about the EU. One the one hand side there is the tradition of  tabloid campaign journalism which actively lobbies against anything European.  The Murdoch press has bee opposed to the EU as soon as it realised that competition policy might also have an impact on the Murdochs. However, I don’t think the Murdoch press is the problem. The main problem in the UK  is actually the Daily Mail – and this goes beyond the  EU stories, it has an impact on democratic culture. The Daily Mail is read by a large middle class who tends to think of it as a ‘normal’ newspaper – which I think is an essential problem in the UK. (but this is a topic for another blogpost) One the other hand you can find  inaccuate EU reporting also in broadsheets. However, tabloid ‘EU stories’ have created an atmosphere which can be characterised by suspicion and fear of the ‘other’ and a general feeling that foreigners and immigrats are bad and everything foreign (especially ”Brussels’) cannot be trusted. Let’s not forget that the  media concsiously misreports EU issues and actively develops  euromyths. I don’t believe that this is because of lazy journalists  – it is far too frequent, it only happens in the UK so this must be actively pursued by certain interests! However, the power of the hostile media landscape defined to a large extent what is acceptable for politicians to say ‘on Europe’.

The public debate “on Europe” is stuck in a frame that only knows “europhiles” and “eurosceptics”. As long as both words are seen as insults there is not much hope to move the debate forward. It is not helpful to address the real problems of the EU or the UK-EU relationship.  Especially political parties need to develop new discoursive frames to create a useful debate “on Europe”.  New frames are desperately needed. Examples could be a “social Europe”, a “liberal Europe” or a “stable Europe”. However, in order to do that you need to accept that the EU is here to stay and that different policies should be decided on the different levels with the appropriate democratic control.

We need better EU politicians. The UK as well as most other Menber states must start sending better politicians to Brussels and Strassbourg. The European Parliament can only work better if citizens send their best and brightest MEPs to Strassbourg and Brussels. The European Commission can only work with Commissiners that are multilingual and  competent in their respective policy area.  Parties and the media must stop seeing ‘Brussels’ as the end of a career but rather as a political choice that is as important as being an MP in Westminster.

Languages are a huge problem in the UK. There will be problems as long as the value of language teaching is contested. One benefit of the EU is to look for jobs and opportunities in other EU countries. However, this only works if pupils learn as many languages as possible. Learning a language needs to become compulsary again in UK education – from the first year to the last year!

There is an  obsession of the current UK government to frame everything in the ‘national interests’ using an outdated concept of ‘power’ and ‘sovereinty’. This may well be a problem of the Conservative party but the real problem is the narrow definition of ‘national interests’.  If everything is framed within zero sum games it is very difficult to win anything. At the moment, the government seems to have a very simplisitic view on power and influence which is also at the heart of its problems with the EU.

And one final thing: The UK is a European country. So, please Brits, stop saying “If you go to Europe…” or “In Europe things are different…” As long as you define everything according to a “them and us” pattern, nothing will change.

What is the way forward for the UK?

A general point which needs to be addressed is that compromise is often painful but necessary. This may not be an integral part of the UK’s political culture but it is important in an interdependent world and even more so in the EU.  Knowledge about the value of cooperation is another broader concept that is often forgotten in the UK debate. The focus on “national interests”, “souvereignty” etc will not help the UK in long term.

The UK needs to realise that you can only change the EU if it is an integral part of it. If you decide to leave the EU you will end up implementing EU policy without the ability to change EU policy (as outlined by David Cameron). A more complex point however is the following.  You can only change a certain EU policy  if you are an equal part of this specific EU policy. If you have an opt-out nobody will consult you, nobody will listen to you and you will not be able to change anything.<
If a two-speed Europe  is not in the interest of the UK there is only one way forward for the UK:  The UK needs to increase its EU bargaining power!

For example: If the UK is serious about changing the budget in the future it will  need to  give up the budget rebate.  The budget is important as it provides strategic opportunities to reform the EU. But if one country pays less because of some dodgy deal 30 years ago it will not be taken seriously. The world has changed since Thatcher. At the same time the UK could win some friends in Eastern Europe by doing this.  This however can only be addressed if the UK government is ready to accept that it could indeed be in the “national interest” to pay more in exchange of ‘influence’. But this is a difficult sell especially if your ‘red lines’ are rigid and your ‘national interest’ is static.

Another example:  Despite the current crisis, the eurozone is the most important market for the UK. Recently, David  Cameron and George Osborne called for more fiscal coordination within the eurozone because the UK wants a stable currency zone to trade with. Now, the problem is that the UK is not a eurozone member, so one can understand Nicolas Sarkozy’s ager regarding the UK’s attempt to lecture how the eurozone should be run. Using the current eurozone crisis to start a debate on repatriating some mysterious powers (which are never properly defined!) is exactly the wrong way to secure a stable eurozone. It will not give you more leverage but only make you sound ridiculous in the ears of French or German politicians. And remember: In the worst case scenario the eurozone will establish parallel institutions and negotiating new treaties outside the present EU framework – and the UK would have no say whatsoever. The bargaining chip is unfortunately (at least for the political elite) full eurozone membership. The UK government should announce to join  (important is the word ‘announce’!) in a reformed eurozone at some undefined point in the future. This may give the prime minister a seat at the table of the eurozone summits and in every other future political/fiscal cooperation mechanism. The bargaining power is quite sophisticated. No direct obligation to join the euro but an influence in shaping the governance of the eurozone based on a vague promise to join one day if reforms have been implemented successfully.

Just two points that are often neglected by UK politicians and commentators: (1) Germany will do everything to save the Euro. And I mean everything.  It may be hard to believe for some UK commentators, but a break- up of the Euro is not on the agenda. Only British newspapers speculate about it. (2) All Eastern European EU member states are legally obliged to join the Euro in the future including states such as Poland. Denmark has an opt-out but its currency is linked to the eurzone which makes the opt out purely symbolical. That leaves the UK and Sweden – the latter is thinking about holding a new referendum after the crisis. The danger is not a two-speed Europe –  but a core-EU of up to 26 member states.

Another example. You can’t advocate for a better EU foreign policy and saying at the same time that nothing needs to change. It is a failure of the British diplomacy not to use the EU in more strategic way. After all, British diplomats are among the best out there and are highly respected within the international system. But why is Britain opposed to making the EEAS work, why not develop joint consular services or coordinate foreign policy on the ground, why not save money and increase efficiency with a military coordination unit in Brussels? It is pure hypocrisy to criticise on the EU’s lack of power without trying to change things. Again, this has to do with an outdated concept of sovereignty which places more importance on symbols and traditions than addressing the real problems.

I think the UK elite consistently failed to build strong EU alliances. Especially a strong British-German alliance within the EU would be desirable.  There is a lot of common ground between the two countries – provided you are prepared to learn from another country. There is a substantial part within the German elite which can identify with the  UK’s philosophy on trade and markets.  In contrast, the French state centric economic model does not really correspond to German realities.  However, the German-French axis mainly exists because of historical reasons – and the lack of alternatives. I think the Germans would rather run the EU with the Brits than with the French if the Brits were a bit more involved in everything and would not always look for the opt-out. The truth is that Germany and Britain are both large countries that are obviously linked through history (and the British obsession with the wars might not have helped in the past), languages are not that different and even the Queen has German ancestors. People in Germany are fond of the English language and British culture. So wouldn’t it make sense for British politicians to develop closer links to Germany?

You want to change the CAP,  liberalise services in the EU, reform the EU budget, clearly define what policy is decided on which level, creating a better EU foreign policy? Well,  I think Berlin might be interested. But from a Berlin perspective, the UK is already seen as semi-detached from the EU – if not fully detached. Basically nobody in Berlin cares what British politicians say on ‘Europe’ or what they want during the next round of treaty negotiations.

Well, this is something David Cameron should change. But he can only change it if he offers something in return.

World day against cyber-censorship: France “under surveillance”

12 March 2011: The world day against cyber-censorship:

Launched by Reporters Without Borders in 2008, World Day Against Cyber-Censorship (on 12 March 2011) is intended to rally everyone in support of a single Internet without restrictions and accessible to all.

The fight for online freedom of expression is more essential than ever. By creating new spaces for exchanging ideas and information, the Internet is a force for freedom. In countries where the traditional media are controlled by the government, the only independent news and information are to be found on the Internet, which has become a forum for discussion and a refuge for those who want to express their views freely.

However, more and more governments have realised this and are reacting by trying to control the Internet. Never have so many countries been affected by some form of online censorship, whether arrests or harassment of netizens, online surveillance, website blocking or the adoption of repressive Internet laws. Netizens are being targeted by government reprisals. Around 117 of them are currently detained for expressing their views freely online, mainly in China, Iran and Vietnam.

World Day Against Cyber-Censorship pays tribute to them and their fight for Internet freedom. Reporters Without Borders will mark the occasion by issuing its latest list of “Enemies of the Internet.”

RSF produced a nice website, a report (pdf) and a rather interesting map highlighting not only the “enemies of the Internet” (which are quite easy to guess) but also “countries under surveillance“. And there is bad news for Europe:  For the first time a EU member state has made it into the ‘surveillance’ category:  So, congratulations France – unfortunately it is not a huge surprise given the French three strikes legislation. It is however a timely reminder that internet censorship is also a problem in Europe!

Enemies of the Internet: Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam

Countries ‘under surveillance': Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, Egypt, Eritrea, France, Libya, Malaysia, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lnaka, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela

 

OpenLeaks online

The OpenLeaks website is finally online! (Not a huge surprise after the “leaks” a couple of days ago) There is also a “draft video”:

OpenLeaks 101 from openleaks on Vimeo.

EU Commission on Hungarian media law: “Serious doubts”

It was a indeed a “bad start” for the Hungarian presidency of the EU Council:  First the fierce criticism about the media law by the international media (see my #Censorban post here) followed by  a carpet row and last weeks’ MEP protests in the European Parliament. And it is not even February…

In the meantime the European Commission started reviewing the controversial Hungarian media law and it just happened that the official letter of Neelie Kroes has been leaked to the Hungarian daily Népszabadság.

The letter (pdf) can be found here.

In the letter the European Commission asks the Hungarian authorities for “clarifications” on several issues:

  • Obligation of balanced coverage applicable to all audiovisual media services
  • Country of origin principle
  • Registration requirements

It concludes with the statement that “Commission services have serious doubts as to the compatibility of the Hungarian legislation with Union law” . Furthermore, the European Commission “invites the Hungarian government to submit within two weeks observations on how these serious doubts may be addressed ”

A couple of bloggingportal editors will be meeting with some representatives of the Hungarian Council presidency later this week. If you have any questions you would like us to ask – feel free to use the comments below or contact bloggingportal (email, twitter, facebook)!

Budapest, we have a problem: #Censorbán

And it is a major problem:  Hungary’s new media law.

Bloggingportal.eu launched a European Blog Action against Censorship in Hungary and also provides a good round-up of reactions and some background documents (just go through the comment thread!)

I don’t want to repeat the points that were made elsewhere. It is never a good idea to pass a law that can be used (even if nobody wants to use it in a specific way) to increase political control over the press. Even the slightest possibility of a a problematic legal clause needs to be addressed. Press and media freedom are too important for democracy in Europe. Simple as that.

cc by-nc-saAs you know Hungary will take over the Council Presidency of the EU in January 2011. And there is even a new blog by the HU presidency.  So feel free to voice your concern about the new law. Obviously they are not amused about the critical reactions and claim that the Council Presidency has nothing to do with Hungarian politics. But the new media law seems  such a major problem that I think it is a legitimate thing to do.  And anyway, the Council Presidency is organised by the Hungarian government… It would be a major embarrassment if the Council presidency was overshadowed by the media law…

So let’s take a picture of Viktor Orbán and transform him into Viktor #Censorbán  (yes it is inspired by  schäublone, #zensursula & #censilia). Basically it is a wordplay of Viktor Orban and Censorship. In other languages one could use Zensorban or Cenzorbana… the idea is quite flexible. Feel free to use, remix and share the picture (cc by-nc-sa).  As you will notice, I am not a professional photoshop/gimp user and I did not have a good picture of Orban in the first place. So any quality improvements are much appreciated. Not sure whether this also makes sense in Hungarian as I do not speak the language. (so if you speak Hungarian leave a comment with improvements!) I know that it should rather read “Censorban Viktor” but well, let’s say it is designed for an international audience.

But there are a couple of things that we should think about in more detail:

First of all: It seems to me that media freedom and internet freedom are increasingly attacked by democratic governments around the world and Europe is following the trend. There are two principal strategies:

Option No 1:  A government wants more control over the press or the internet. It is interesting to think about why this happens more frequently ( – and not understanding the internet is a big part of it)  Usually it is framed as a security problem: “We need to know more about terrorist networks” or it is about the children: “We have to protect our children” .  It can also be the  result of intense industry lobbying to “protect customers and offer a better product” or it is connected to copyright issues.  All these claims are very difficult to challenge in any campaign. (but it is not impossible!) Just think about the French internet blocking law, a couple of German internet laws (from “zensursula” to “JMStV”) or even international negotiations that include internet related articles such as ACTA. The debate on net neutrality can also be cited in this context. But the Hungarian law seems to go one step further as it us  includes all types of media plus a governmental media watch dog…

Option No 2:  A toxic combination of private and public interests mixed with strange business models, corruption and media monopolies. For example Murdoch in the UK, Berlusconi in Italy or the general level of corruption in Bulgaria that also affects the media. This is usually a gradual but equally dangerous process. (but also a topic for another blog post…)

The main question for the EU:  What to do with those countries? The accession process is a straight forward process: Copenhagen criteria and conditionality prevent countries to adopt certain laws.  However, once a country joined the EU there are not many possibilities to interfere with laws that might not be in the “spirit of the EU”. Italy or France can get away with laws that would not be allowed under a strict accession regime. And it is similar in the case of Hungary.  So what could be done? Ignoring certain people  in Council meetings (it did not work with Austria), reduce or stop payments of the cohesion funds/CAP or a suspension of voting rights in the Council? To impose a supervisory mechanism (mixed results in Romania and Bulgaria)?  I am not convinced any of this would have an effect. But  do we really need a new legal tool regarding fundamental freedoms?

The main question for the blogosphere: How to campaign against the various laws and legal practices that restrict press freedom  (not only Hungary)? Media freedom in other (European) countries  should be of concern for the (European) blogoshphere(s).  So the question is whether this topic could potentially become a pan-European topic?  There have been great blogging campaigns in Germany and France relating to press and internet freedom. We need to learn from successful campaigns in other EU countries and replicate the most efficient tools. And especially for  smaller countries  support from the rest of the EU might be crucial to run effective campaigns. In fact, it is one of the few topics that resonate with all national (political) blogospheres in Europe –  which is not a surprise as every blogger can identify with the potential problems of a proposed law.

So what should be done with the Hungarian media law? Let’s  keep the topic on the agenda, use the Council presidency to get  EU wide media coverage – and embarrass the Hungarian government.

Update 27/12: Now you  can also follow @censorban on twitter…

Update 30/12: SME Dennik, one of the biggest daily newspapers in Slovakia, mentions the bloggingportal campaign alongside the Censorban pic (although attributed to bloggingportal.eu which is not a problem – but a factual mistake) Anyway, the article can be found in the print (e-paper) and online version of the paper!

Kosmolinks #20: WikiLeaks

Kosmolinks returns with a selection of the best wikileaks/cablegate articles/links. (see my initial reaction on cablegate/wikileaks here and some links to Julian Assange’s writings here). The in aim in this post is not to provide an overview about the mainstream media coverage  but to highlight a few interesting articles and links that I found helpful in thinking about wikileaks.

Memex 1.1 » What the attacks on WikiLeaks tell us.

Wikileaks, Now « zunguzungu

WL Central- An unofficial WikiLeaks information resource

Reporters Sans Frontières – Wikileaks hounded?

A list of Wikileaks Mirrors and a guide how to support Mass Mirroring

Raffi Khatchadourian: No Secrets Julian Assange’s mission for total transparency (The New Yorker)

Like It or Not, WikiLeaks is a Media Entity (gigaom.com)

The Weakest Link: What Wikileaks Has Taught Us About the Open Internet | an/archivista

Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com

Kontrapunkt: Schafft zwei, drei, viele Wikileaks! – Meinung – Tagesspiegel

List of people who have criminalised Julian Assange

PdFLeaks: Carne Ross on the Diplomacy Before and After Wikileaks | techPresident

PdF Presents: A Symposium on Wikileaks and Internet Freedom | Personal Democracy Forum

From Wikileaks to OpenLeaks, Via the Knight News Challenge | techPresident

Richard Stallman Kettling Wikileaks | DefectiveByDesign.org

WikiLeaks has created a new media landscape | Clay Shirky | Comment is free | The Guardian.

The age of the WikiLeaks-style vigilante geek is over | Evgeny Morozov | The Guardian.

[FYI: This linkroll will be updated regularly – so if you are interested in the topic make sure to check back from time to time. ]

Bloggingportal event in London: Programme now available!

In case you are wondering what has happened to this mysterious bloggingportal event in London… Well, we have an incredible  programme (see below) and there seems to be quite some interest among bloggers and journalists.  So if you would like to attend this event please let us know as soon as possible. Just send an email  to info[at]bloggingportal.eu to reserve a place.

I also would like to thank eurogoblin who did an amazing job in organisig this event (while living in Africa for most of the time!). Well done Joe!

EVENT PROGRAMME:

WHEN: 10th December 2010 – 13:00 – 18:00

WHERE: Europe House, 32 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3EU

WHAT:  Bloggingportal.eu proudly presents:  A non-partisan event exploring the different ways bloggers and journalists can cover the EU in Britain.

EVENT PROGRAMME

13:00 – EVENT START / REGISTRATION / SANDWICH LUNCH

13:45 to 15:15 – FIRST PANEL – “The EU in the British Media”
We’ll be asking our panelists about the coverage of the EU in the British press. Do the media generally do a good job of “keeping tabs” on the EU? Is it true that British euroscepticism is driven by the media, or are the media just following public opinion?

PANELISTS:

David Rennie – Political Editor and Bagehot Columnist, The Economist
Paul Staines – Blogger, Guido Fawkes
Mats Persson – Director, Open Europe
J Clive Matthews – Blogger, Nosemonkey’s EUtopia

15:15 – COFFEE BREAK

15:45 to 17:45 – SECOND PANEL – “The EU in the British Blogosphere”
In this panel, we’ll be turning a critical eye on the British blogosphere. Do bloggers have any advantages over mainstream journalists when writing about the EU? Are bloggers better informed and freer to say what everybody is really thinking? Unconstrained by deadlines and editorial oversight, can they delve deeper into a story? Or are they just under less pressure to maintain levels of accuracy and ethical behaviour?

PANELISTS:

Bruno Waterfield – Brussels Correspondent, The Daily Telegraph, Europe Not EU blog
Gawain Towler – UKIP / Europe of Freedom and Democracy Press Officer and Blogger, England Expects
Antonia Mochan – Head of Media, EU Commission Representative in the UK,  Talking about the EU
Jon Worth – Blogger, Jon Worth’s Euroblog

Both panels will be moderated discussions, including time for questions from the audience. There will be wifi provision and a charging station for laptops/mobile phones etc. Please let us know by e-mail at info [at] bloggingportal.eu to reserve a place.

NOTE: We’ve had some technical difficulties with our e-mail system, so if you haven’t had a reply from us, then please contact us again. Also let us know if you have any further questions, or any dietary requirements or access issues we should know about.

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