Writing the Truth about Europe
Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 30th April, 2008
Last night, I attended the first UACES-Reuters Reporting Europe Awards, at the splendid Reuters building in Canary Wharf — or, to be more precise, the headquarters of the new company Thomson Reuters, as it became less than a fortnight ago. It’s nearly 25 years since I worked for Reuters in Brussels, but the need for accurate information about the European Union is just as imperative now as it was then. Alas, swaths of the British press prefer to peddle lies and myths. The keynote speaker at the awards ceremony, Niall FitzGerald, Deputy Chairman of Thomson Reuters, gave an amusing but also rather depressing run-through of some of the more grotesque stories of recent months. This was doubly depressing, in that firstly popular organs such as The Sun and the Daily Mail still peddle such misleading rubbish, and that secondly such a high proportion of the British public reads this gleefully, so they can indulge in a good bit of Brussels-bashing down at the pub or the golf club.
But the point of the new awards is to celebrate good, fair and accurate reporting of European issues, and it was reassuring to see just what a strong short-list of nominees the judges had to choose from: Bertrand Benoit of the Financial Times, John Peet of the Economist, the blogger J Clive Matthews and the BBC’s Europe Editor, Mark Mardell were the commended runners-up. However, the award went to my former colleague Allan Little, BBC World Affairs Correspondent — and well deserved too. As we approach the Euro-elections of June 2009, thank God there are some informed and sane voices among the cacophony of scare-mongers and xenophobes.