The Pan-European Forum on Media Pluralism and New Media took place at the European Parliament on the 27th of June. The panel counted among its members several important personalities of the European Media world: BBC, The Guardian, Wired Magazine, The Irish Time and others joined the discussion about the future perspectives of Media and Pluralism.
The conference discussion originated from a symbolic “three-W” (Wider, World, Web). The debate brought up several questions about the relation between democracy and information, citizens and professional journalism, new media and pluralism. The conference was streamed on the event website and viewers were able to contribute to the discussion via a twitter live stream running in the background through the hashtag #nmf27
The panel discussed the relation between old and new media and the role citizen journalism plays in today’s information as a public opinion maker. After an interesting but quiet morning, the EP hemicycle got shaken by the arrival of the British actor Hugh Grant who participated in the conference as a campaigner for media pluralism. His presence was meant to give visibility to the need for limiting the percentage of media ownership by a single person or a corporation. The Italian case of Berlusconi’s media ownership raised comments from the public. Even Hugh Grant did not spare a harsh volley of words with “Berlusconi’s employee” Mediaset executive board member Gina Nieri.
Noteworthy global criticism came from Ben Hammersley, editor of the magazine WIRED. He pointed out that, currently, the main issue in the media debate is that even professionals rarely understand that we are not dealing with the future of information, but with its present. He addressed his criticism also to the EP, pointing out that the European crisis is a crisis of trust. The way facts and news are delivered and communicated is connected to the period of political and economic uncertainty we are experiencing: “The decision-makers themselves do not understand the change in communication that already happened. They still think they have to somehow restrain the rise of new media, instead of taking advantage of this new tool for better communication. “
During the debate, there was also space for an inspiring insight into the music and publishing industry in the era of new media. The most innovative proposition for pluralism came from the music world. According to the Featured Artist Coalition, new technologies allow a new business model for music industry. Trying to overcome the current discography chain, the FAC wants to promote a closer relationship between artists and fans. Doing so, the artist keeps the copyright of his work, while fans can directly contribute to their favourite artist’s income. They argue this is a more democratic way to empower artists and to provide a larger and varied choice in music.