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IFJ, WAZ pledge to 'make co-operation work' as commission backs global agreement

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and German media group Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ Mediengruppe) pledged to work together to ensure that journalists produce quality journalism all over Europe after the two signed the first-ever global framework agreement in the media sector.

In a special event in Brussels the European Commission backed the historic agreement and welcomed this industry-based effort to strengthen quality journalism in Europe.

“The essence of press freedom is found in the quality of media and our commitment to quality is very strong,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White at a press conference in Brussels today to mark the signing of the agreement. “We now have a structure for cooperation. We look forward to talking to other employers and having new agreements.”

White and WAZ Managing director Bodo Hombach signed the agreement last week at WAZ headquarters in Essen, Germany. They now plan to set up working groups in all of the countries where WAZ operates to ensure that the agreement and some basic operating principles are followed at every WAZ publication.

At the press conference, Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, said that she would pledge the support of the European Union behind this agreement and future agreements.

Hombach said that one of the goals of the agreement will be to train reporters and editors to report independently and not focus on supporting particular political parties or politicians. He said the agreement is also important from a business perspective because better trained journalists produce better reports, which will drive sales of newspapers.

“I am confident there is a natural relationship between those who want quality journalists and journalism and those who want to sell it,” Hombach said. “Now we have a yardstick [to measure quality] and we have built up some pressure on ourselves to deliver it.”

At the press conference, Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, said that she would pledge the support of the European Union behind this agreement and future agreements.

“Freedom of expression and freedom of information are not luxuries,” she said. “They must not be at the end of the development process but at the start. We must ensure that our own European media is a strong example of this.”

White said his union group and WAZ management “have different mandates but we have a common interest in making this cooperation work. It will lead to better trained, better informed and better paid journalists.”

Hombach invited journalists to follow up with the company about its progress with the global agreement. “Come back after two years and ask us how we are doing,” he said.

Date posted: July 9, 2007 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 93