Brussels Media Express – volume 1

We are thrilled to bring you the inaugural edition of our newsletter, Brussels Media Express.

As AEJ Belgium, we are part of an international network of journalists that are dedicated to defending media freedom and helping journalists and correspondents to build their networks. Our team has been working tirelessly to launch a new website, and we have several projects in the pipeline that we will love to share with you soon. This includes closely monitoring new developments in EU policies such as the European Media Freedom Act, organising a staging of the Play ‘They Blew Her Up’, and preparing a new event during the winter season.

First and foremost, we want to express our gratitude to the incredible volunteers and interns who have joined our ranks (Tatum BruntonDavid Poelemans and Miquel Sánchez). Their enthusiasm and new ideas have revitalized our organization, injecting it with a refreshed sense of direction and energy. We are all working together to build a lively community where we collaborate, get creative, and share a common goal of making a positive impact.

With each edition of Brussels Media Express, we will dive into developments and topics that we find interesting. We will share insightful articles, interviews with industry experts, and thought-provoking discussions that highlight emerging trends and challenges in journalism and the media sector. Our aim is to foster a space for meaningful conversations, where ideas are nurtured and collective knowledge is expanded. 

We hope that Brussels Media Express becomes a valuable resource for you, serving as a platform for inspiration, information, and connection. We encourage you to actively engage with us, share your thoughts, and contribute your own expertise to the ongoing discourse. Any ideas, articles or interesting insights you want to share with us? Please send us an email or get in contact via our social media.

This first edition includes a range of engaging topics:

  • AI and journalism
  • Spy on journalists in the name of ‘national security’
  • AEJ Belgium goes to South Korea
  • Responding to democratic backsliding – The ongoing battle for media freedom in the EU
  • Info over AEJ Belgium Membership – General Assembly – Live Journalism Theater Play
  • Discover, Learn, Grow: Five must-read articles (in case you missed them)

AI and journalism (By Jasmijn Post)

Sometimes there are innovations that you start using and quickly can’t imagine living without. Such is the case for the artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot ChatGTP, launched in November 2022. I use it daily to get a quick summary of a press release, take the typos out of a transcription, write an introduction or brainstorm questions for an interview.

And yet publishers and journalists have reason to be worried about AI developments. German publishing house Axel Springer warns that “it is not transparent how AI software operates and in what way journalistic content is crawled, scraped, used and saved.”

The European Commission wants to regulate AI applications. The so-called AI rulebook was adopted by the European Parliament on 14 June. It’s the “first law on AI by a major regulator anywhere,” but how it will be applied in our day-to-day remains to be seen.

Stay updated about the developments here.

Spy on journalists in name of ‘national security’ (By Elena Sánchez)

AEJ Belgium opposes the EU Council’s position on the European Media Freedom Act (#EMFA) as we consider that it undermines media freedom and puts journalists and their sources at risk. 

Last week (21 June), EU member states reached an agreement on the media freedom act, paving negotiations with the parliament to finalise the text. The law aims to shield media organisations against political interference and media concentration while protecting journalists and their sources from surveillance. But France – with the support of other countries – has introduced a new exception to the ban on deploying spyware against journalists in the name of “national security.” 

An investigation by Investigative Europe, Follow The Money and Netzpolitik sheds light into how the Council has reversed Article 4 of the draft law. 

AEJ Belgium, together with many other organisations, has been advocating for an ambitious and effective law which can support a vibrant, diverse and independent media sector. All eyes are now on the European Parliament– will MEPs give in during the inter-institutional negotiations of EFMA?

AEJ Belgium goes to South Korea (by Dylan Carter)

In April, AEJ Belgium was thrilled to participate in the World Journalists Conference 2023 in Seoul, South Korea. 

A group of 55 chief editors, senior journalists, and other media professionals from 50 different countries came together to discuss challenges in local journalism, as well as the role of emerging technologies in journalism. 

The use of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) in media became a focal point of discussions, with participants eager to adopt new technologies into their daily lives, but equally fearful of its potential to spread misinformation. 

Speakers presented novel methods to adopt these new tools, including automating breaking news coverage, and switching to blockchain-based financing models for digital media. 

Participants agreed that local journalism is clearly in crisis. 

Declining advertising revenues are leading to the centralisation of reporting, sidelining local interest stories and favouring large media giants. Social media has also contributed to an increase in misinformation and targeted harassment. 

Funding is a pressing issue for local publications, participants said, with many newspapers facing pressure from increasing media consolidation. Media owners agreed that local journalism can combat misinformation and provide valuable local insights. 

Solutions-based journalism that addresses local concerns and holds officials accountable is worth defending. Innovative approaches, such as embedding journalists in local communities, can also help revitalise local journalism.

Responding to Democratic Backsliding – The Ongoing Battle for Media Freedom in the EU (By Tatum Brunton)

Together with William Horsley, the UK Chairman of the AEJ, we discuss the Council of Europe’s Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists’ annual report “War in Europe and the Fight for the Right to Report”. Horsley, who contributed to this report, discusses how he perceives the decline in media freedom, and the key takeaways of the report for the Council of Europe, EU institutions, journalists, and lay people.

With her article, Brunton seeks to gain a better understanding of the dire situation that the report outlines – primarily the devastating statistics regarding democratic backsliding within Europe and the subsequent decline of media freedom. 

The report also underlines the coordinated actions enacted by partner organisations, the Council of Europe, and the institutions of the European Union. It also proposes a succinct number of recommended actions required to improve the protection of media freedom and journalists in Europe.

Membership – General Assembly – Live Journalism Theater Play

AEJ Belgium wants to deliver value to its members; by being a voice in the debates and policymaking that concerns and impacts journalists, offering networking opportunities and providing opportunities for young people who have recently entered the ‘industry’.

With the return of AEJ Belgium President Elena Sanchez, a new strategy has been put in place. This marks the perfect moment to ask you for your membership contributions for 2023. Members will receive an email with a digital invoice and we have to ask you to pay before the General Assembly on July 11th. This will allow all of you to have a voice and a vote on the upcoming developments.  We will also send you your AEJ Belgium membership card for 2023.

In November 2023, AEJ Belgium will help to organise a staging of the Play ‘They Blew Her Up’, written by the Times of Malta Editor in Chief Herman Grech. The play will be presented in combination with a form of Live Journalism with additional on-stage interviews and case studies.

Discover, Learn, Grow: Five must-read articles (in case you missed them)

  • EU files: How to get them, how to leak them, and what’s the point? (possible paywall)
  • The Media Cares More About the Titanic Sub Than Drowned Migrants (free)
  • Exclusive: OpenAI Lobbied the E.U. to Water Down AI Regulation (free)
  • ‘Qatargate’ judge steps aside after conflict of interest allegations (possible paywall)
  • Automated Neglect: How The World Bank’s Push to Allocate Cash Assistance Using Algorithms Threatens Rights (free)

Thank you for joining us on this exciting journey. 

Stay tuned for our first edition of Brussels Media Express coming soon!

AEJ Belgium

Join the AEJ Belgium family today. More info here.

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