Questions of trust have materialized at every turn during these last few weeks. Just as Richard Edelman was launching the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer at Davos, Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, was launching her High Level Group’s report on media freedom and pluralism. It was commissioned in the wake of a range of problems surrounding Europe; from market dominance and questionable democracy to malpractice amongst journalists, which all have rattled our trust in the media at one level or another.
The group’s most challenging objective, for me, was to look at how the democratic watchdog function of the media could be protected in an ever-evolving industry. While on the one hand, the group recommends granting journalists legal rights for protecting their sources, on the other it rightly asks, how in an age of internet, bloggers and tweeple, can we determine which journalists need protecting in the first place. The group’s chair, Professor Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, explains, “Media freedom is like a delicate flower. It has to be tended very carefully.”
Other recommendations discussed in the report centered on the EU vs. national powers in this field, regulator independence, competition, journalist codes of conduct and net neutrality.
While Kroes had the report on her desk to determine the next steps, her spokesman Ryan Heath joined us at The Centre, Edelman Brussels’ own platform for public engagement, to discuss with a panel of experts the impact of the changing media landscape on the Brussels “bubble.” It may have been the first in our series on the Future of Quality Journalism, but I sense it won’t be the last to bring up key words like crisis, cooperation, complexity and… trust.
Jill Craig is deputy general manager at Edelman Brussels.
The above featured image by Guilhem Vellut.