INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISTS' NETWORK -
September 27, 2004
JOURNALISTS ACCUSE MEDIA OWNERS OF EDITORIAL INTERFERENCE
Romanian newspapers are complaining that
their multinational owners are interfering in their editorial policies.
The International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) reported that employees at Romania Libera are accusing the
paper’s owner, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) of Essen, Germany, of
pressuring the paper to change its editorial content. They allege that the owner
had started giving the paper’s journalists “directions about what the newspaper
should write about, how should it write and who should not longer be
According to Romanian media accounts,
WAZ is now threatening the journalists who voiced the complaints. Petre Mihai
Bacanu, executive director of Romania Libera, told Romania Press Online that he
had been threatened by one representative of the WAZ media group.
"I have been threatened by phone call.
They threatened I would lose my job. But I'd rather lose it than give up honor,"
Journalists at another Romanian paper,
Evenimentul Zilei, are also accusing their owners of interfering with the
paper’s independence. They say the Swiss owner, Ringier, was putting pressure on
the paper to soften the newspaper’s critical tone in order to increase
Journalists at both papers stressed that
these actions breach agreements reached at the time of the owners’ initial
financial investments. The owners had agreed to limit their activities to
marketing issues, leaving editorial policies to the paper’s employees.
Media advocacy groups are protesting the
alleged interference. “When outside political interests start pulling editorial
strings it can have devastating consequences on quality and media pluralism,”
said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.
Foreign publishing groups dominate media
ownership in Central and Eastern Europe. WAZ, Germany's second-largest media
group, owns over 130 newspapers and magazines, dominating the media market in
the region particularly in the Balkans. Ringier, Switzerland's largest
magazine publisher, owns 10
Romanian magazines. It also owns media
outlets in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
IFJ also says that these ownership
patterns weaken media pluralism, an essential part of a free press.
“The IFJ has been consistently warning
that excessive media concentration and foreign ownership in Europe was damaging
pluralism,” said White. “The situation in Central and Eastern Europe is
particularly acute where foreign publishing groups dominate ownership. Until
recently criticisms have been deflected by claims that the companies did not
interfere in editorial policy.
These protests have exposed that
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source: IJNet 276
published by: Daniela Mathis firstname.lastname@example.org
date of release on this site 30/09/04