Friday, February 06, 2009

Journalism Prize Discriminates Against Nationless Languages

Oh poor Europe, always trying to portray itself as the flagship of democracy, liberty and progress only to find itself making the same all mistakes again and again and again. The main problem being that the Europe of the nations has a bad case of stunted development do to the meddling of a few former colonialist powers, name it Spain, France, Great Britain and Italy.

Those countries impose their borders, their flags, their anthems, their homogenized culture, their law, all what they are upon the nations trapped in an out of context concept of statehood, including of course, imposing their language.

This is why time and again we learn about issues like the one published at EurActiv:

Parliament journalism prize 'illegal', say MEPs

Six MEPs have accused the EU assembly of "illegally" discriminating against particular journalists by only admitting submissions for a prestigious EU prize if they are produced in one of the bloc's 23 official languages.

'The European Parliament Prize for Journalism' is awarded to journalists "who have displayed excellence in covering major European issues and/or promoted better understanding of the EU institutions and/or policies," according to a statement on the institution's website.

"We're fully supportive of this prize, but as things stand it excludes the first-rate journalism produced in many languages that don't have official status in the EU," said a spokesman for the group of European Free Alliance (EFA) MEPs.

Prizes are awarded across four categories - print media, radio, television and the Internet – and are open to either individuals or teams of up to five. The winner in each category receives €5,000. But the eligibility criteria clearly state that "contributions eligible for the award of the European Parliament Prize for Journalism shall be in one of the official languages of the European Union".

This prevents works from "major publications in the many languages that do not have official status at EU level" from entering, lament the EFA members, citing Catalan, Russian, Welsh and Basque among others.

In a letter, MEPs from Scotland (Ian Hudghton and Alyn Smith), Wales (Jill Evans), Latvia (Tatjana Ždanoka), Romania (László Tőkés) and the Basque country (Mikel Irujo) call on the Parliament's president, Hans-Gert Pöttering, to amend the rules because "they may in breach of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights".

"If we are to encourage honest and open reporting of the EU and its work then it makes no sense at all to discriminate against certain journalists or publications based on language," the EFA spokesman added, highlighting the "important contribution" of works in unofficial languages to furthering European debate.

The letter to Pöttering is not the first time EFA members have sought to draw attention to minority languages at EU level. Last September (EurActiv 25/09/08), Irujo, Evans and Tőkés complained that the European Commission was not "courageous" enough to set out concrete initiatives to promote minority languages in its new multilingualism strategy, launched earlier that month (EurActiv 19/09/08).

The Parliament has been accepting submissions for the 2009 journalism competition, now in its second year, since 15 January. The deadline for applications is 31 March. To be eligible, works must have been published or broadcast between 1 May 2008 and the closing date.

Now, let us remember that not too long ago Hans-Gert Pöttering earned the title of Basque-phobe of the week for denying the Basques their political right to self determination, so something tells me that the initiative put forwards by the MEPs will crash against a wall of intolerance.

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