Laws on the status of journalists in Europe need to be revised

The Culture Committee of the PACE, meeting in Budapest today, drew attention to the fact that the gradual slide into precarity of the profession of journalist is directly linked to the collapse of the traditional model of news media and the development of on-line media. The number of freelance journalists is booming, working conditions are deteriorating and unacceptable inequalities between women and men in the profession are increasing.

Adopting the draft resolution unanimously based on the report by Elvira Drobinski-Weiss (Germany, SOC), the members of the Parliamentary Assembly, ask European governments to fully assume their positive obligation to protect media professionals, taking all necessary steps to ensure freedom of expression and the protection of sources, and put an end to impunity for attacks on journalists.

They urge member states to “review their domestic legislation on the status of journalists with a view to identifying any areas to be updated, taking recent technological and economic developments into account”. They also ask them to explore avenues for alternative funding in a new media ecosystem, including the redistribution of advertising revenue generated by search engines or social media, and the inclusion of freelancers within the scope of labour legislation in terms of minimum pay.

The adopted text calls on trade unions and journalists' organisations to adjust to rapid societal changes, including with regard to the status of journalists, “which should be adaptable, as its essence lies in the tasks and not in the legal definition”.