European Journalism Centre Inaugural in Maastricht

Article excerpt

Three years after the formation of the European Journalism Training Association (EJTA) in Brussels in 1990, a new European Journalism Centre has been established in an initiative by the new association, the European Commission and Parliament, and the academic world. The new center will offer advanced training for mid-career journalists and provide services and expertise to third parties in the media world.

The center is based in Maastricht, in the southern part of the Netherlands, although a number of special seminars will be set up with partner-institutions elsewhere in Europe. The first three years of activity will be subsidized by the European Commission to promote joint educational projects with the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and other international authorities.

While the center is independent of the EJTA, it provides a permanent secretariat and support for the association's projects. A board of counselors, consisting of high-ranking journalists and media representatives from EC countries, will advise the EJC staff on its program of seminars.

The adventuresome 1994 program of short courses includes more than 100 roundtables, seminars and programs mostly scheduled in Maastricht and taught in English. A few other programs are planned for Madrid, Brussels, Montpellier (France), Cologne, Paris, Aarhus (Denmark), Perugia (Italy), and Kalmar (Sweden). Journalistic language courses are scheduled in four locations enabling participants to have direct contact with native speakers.

Five three-day programs on journalism education are scheduled in Maastricht and Prague. These meetings are planned for school executives and lecturers on topics such as "Profiles of Journalism Education," "Teaching International Groups," and "The European Media Landscape."

The 1994 catalog of courses will remind American journalism and mass communication educators of the programs offered at the American Press Institute and the Poynter Institute of Media Studies. Board chairman Elio Comarin, who represented Radio France Internationale at the inaugural, predicted (in French, translated later) that European media can only overcome their present difficulties by expanding their European dimension.

At the official opening on Sept. 9, 1993, Comarin predicted that the center will be a service to national and regional training centers, professional unions, publishers' associations, and other media organizations. "Specific measures should be taken in order to intensify exchanges between the different European regions," he added. "The new Europe needs new, better informed, more competent and credible journalists."

Keynote address

Providing the keynote address at the EJC's opening was Joao de Deus Pinheiro (Portugal), European Commissioner for Information, Communication and Culture. He opened the center in the same Limburg hall that hosted the signing of the European Union Treaty in December 1992. "I am convinced that both the European institutions and our member governments have underestimated the importance of information and communication in the past." He suggested, "This is one reason...why the Community has had its problems with the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty."

Professor Pinheiro proposed a new information and communication strategy for the European Commission and other European institutions:

* "Information is an integral part of the communication process and must be open, complete, simple and clear. This is openness in action;

* "Information and communication policy must be relevant and therefore demand-oriented, taking account of clearly identified audiences;

* "There must be a coherent approach which can only be ensured by coordination among the various suppliers of information; and

* "Information must be user-friendly and available rapidly, whether in response to demand or initiated by the Commission."

Since Pinheiro attached such great importance to the role of the press in a democratic European Community, he said it was natural that he also support journalism training--particularly an European dimension to the training. …