Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for the ‘AEJ’ Category

The AEJ Congress in Greece

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 4th December, 2018

AEJ Congress Greece 1The Association of European Journalists (AEJ) held its annual Congress over the weekend, hosted by the Greek section. We were based in Agrinio, a rather pleasant little town of which, I confess, I had previously never heard, though sessions also took place in Vonitsa and Messolonghi. The Greek hospitality was wonderful, but of course it was the content of the discussions that was paramount. Greece has suffered a double whammy in recent years, with its economic crisis (it should never have been allowed to join the euro!) and the mass influx of refugees from Syria and elsewhere. The European Union has failed to enact a satisfactory strategy for dealing with this migration, largely because of a lack of unity among member states, ranging from Germany’s open door policy to stiff resistance from Hungary. There is an undoubted but unwelcome link between this situation and the rise of far right political parties in several EU member states — an issue that attracted much concerned debate within the AEJ.

AEJ Congress Greece So, too, did the matter of growing threats to media freedom, for example in Hungary (again!), but also to the extreme extent of assassinations of journalists, as in Malta and Slovakia. Though not all AEJ sections are in EU member states, the organisation is essentially supportive of the European project, so the challenges facing the EU currently were something of a dampener on the Congress, despite the warmth of the Greek hospitality. So, too, the issue of “fake news” or disinformation, which is not just an issue in Trump’s America. And as if that were not enough there is the whole horror show of Brexit, which is having a big impact beyond Britain’s shores, not least in Ireland. The British AEJ section held out the hope that Brexit may be stopped; the feasibility of that may become more obvious over the next few days.

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