You know what would really improve the quality of journalism, at least in the opinion of the EU? Give bureaucrats the power to fire reporters for, er,abuses. The European Union scolded the UK for not establishing a government “council” to oversee its media industry, and called for “councils” in every member state with the power to fire reporters that they deem outside the pale:
A “high level” EU panel, that includes Latvia’s former president and a former German justice minister, was ordered by Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice-president, last year to report on “media freedom and pluralism”. It has concluded that it is time to introduce new rules to rein in the press.
“All EU countries should have independent media councils,” the report concluded.
“Media councils should have real enforcement powers, such as the imposition of fines, orders for printed or broadcast apologies, or removal of journalistic status.”
And don’t fall under the misapprehension that these “media councils” will operate independently, either. They will be under the jurisdiction of Brussels at all times:
As well as setting up state regulators with draconian powers, the panel also recommended that the European Commission be placed in overall control in order to ensure that the new watchdogs do not breach EU laws.
“The national media councils should follow a set of European-wide standards and be monitored by the Commission to ensure that they comply with European values,” the report said.
One must suspect that “European values” mean “not reporting anything that makes the EU look like a liberty-phobic micromanagers.” Bruno Waterfield would be the first to have his license to write revoked under those “values.” Speaking of liberty-phobic, the EU’s panel didn’t much care for David Cameron’s rejection of the idea that government should approve the news:
“The gross abuses revealed in the Leveson enquiry have led its author to propose much more stringent institutional supervision, where the media would be much more closely monitored,” the report said.
“That judge Leveson’s recommendations should have been rejected out of hand by some politicians in high office, is not very reassuring.”
Perhaps not to the EU, but I’d bet that a significant number of Brits found it reassuring indeed.
Speaking of whom, does Brussels really believe that this effort will make the UK more likely to move closer to integration? This is a big red flag for Cameron and the UK, and it should be for all member states. If newspapers have to worry about falling afoul of apparatchiks in Brussels every time they report on a story — especially in politics — then whose interest will their national media industries serve? Not their own national interest, and not their readers’ interests, either, and most certainly not truth, either. They will be forced to serve “European values” as defined by the central “media council” of the continental government.
Addendum: Perhaps this will make the blogging industry even more influential in the EU, but don’t be surprised when “media councils” turn their attention there, too.