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Sunday, November 10, 2002

The ICF was strongly represented at the fifth Euroforum on the theme of “The Media and European Governance” organised by the Association for Europe in Madeira, Portugal, from November 7-10 2002.

João Henriques Gonçalves, President of the Association, observed that “civil society in Madeira needs to be participating more; that is the real need”. The first speaker, Antonio Neto da Silva, former Trade Minister, speaking on the subject “Good governance in Europe, present-day and the future” surveyed the European Community, especially the way it has been governed.

William Porter, the ICF Founder President, and Hugh Nowell, member of the Executive Committee, stressed in a panel discussion that the best way to improve the media – a much needed task indeed – is for the media person to improve first, and above all as a human being. Speaking on the theme “Good Governance and Democracy”, Porter highlighted the journalist as a human being and emphasised that a journalist spends his life interviewing people but that systems and structures cannot be interviewed. As far as responsibilities of the media are concerned, he pointed to the need to promote dialogue with those in power, to report what they have done and still have to do - something which has meant that media personnel have often been targets of criticism and of being badly treated. In concluding his talk, Porter affirmed that “behaviour is key for the future of our civilisation”.

Bernard Margueritte, the ICF President and a contributor to “Le Monde Diplomatique”, led a session on “Europe and the Media”. He delivered a speech about the historical opportunity, but also the dangers facing Europe today. Unfortunately, he said, many of those dangers are largely ignored by the media. No wonder then that the European Union is still far away from the citizen and remains mostly the Union of the bureaucrats and the businessmen. Where is the Europe of the founding fathers? Where is the Europe with a mission, with values, with a purpose and a programme in the world? Why doesn’t the media address those essential topics? The same is true, emphasised Margueritte, about the future enlargement of the EU. It is a historical event, but it brings about many dangers for the cohesion and the future of the Union. The people have the right to know about them so that they can make the right decisions. How can they do so if the media, once again, is not living up to the task?