Freedom of the press, the future of media business and models of sustainable business were some of the topics discussed during the 9th edition of the South East Europe Media Forum (SEEMF) held in Bucharest on 5-6 November. The most prominent Forum focusing on the media sector in CEE, organised by the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), the Central European Initiative (CEI) and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS)  this year focused on “Media in South East Europe – the Struggle for Success on the Web”, gathering regional media CEOs, editors-in-chief, leading journalists, business professionals, governmental and NGO representatives.

“The European perspective of its Member States is the core mission of the CEI. That's why we are committed to supporting the non-EU CEI countries in order to come closer to EU standards in terms of media legislation, digitalisation, public broadcasting, free movement of journalists and quality journalism. The SEEMF offers an exceptional platform to tackle these key issues,” commented CEI Alternate Secretary General, Amb. Margot Klestil-Löffler, in her welcome address.
 
“We are meeting in Romania in a period when many political things are happening in this country,” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic noted. “It is important that the media, especially in days like these, respect professional standards. Such standards were among  the topics discussed during SEEMF, especially in the introduction panel during which leading Romanian media representatives spoke about the media situation in the country.”, he added.
 
Christian Spahr, head of the Media Program South East Europe at KAS, pointed out that  “The South East Europe Media Forum fosters the topical professional exchange between journalists, media, experts and politicians on an international level. It is a great encouragement for the development of an independent media landscape”.
 
A welcome address by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis was presented by presidential counsellor Laurentiu Stefan, while a welcome speech from the Romanian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bogdan Aurescu, was  delivered by the CEI National Coordinator at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alexandru Ene.
 
The Forum included four panel discussions on the future of journalism: “News content - competition on the Web. Who can cash in on it, and what kind of regulation is necessary?”; “Future of the media business - the vision of CEOs and directors. Which directions are media landscapes taking in Southern and Eastern Europe?”; “Journalists and their audience - a new relationship. Is a true dialogue through the Internet possible, and how can it be successful?”; “Innovative business models in times of change and crisis. How can traditional media survive and start-ups become prosperous?”.
 
Among the forum speakers were: Olender Marcin, public policy and government relations manager of Central and Eastern Europe at Google, stressed the importance of keeping free content on the web; Paul Radu, executive director of the Occrp (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project), underlined that supporting investigative journalism by using the hybrid model including public funding and grants was crucial; Orlin Spasov, head of the Media Democracy Fund Bulgaria, underlined that the tabloids in Eastern Europe had already established a model of sustainable business while problems remained for those who produced quality content; Cristoph Lanz, Deutsche Welle said the motto ''content is dominant in the new media world'' was already ''outdated'', as opposed to ''context is the real master nowadays''; and Luca De Biase from Il Sole 24 Ore (Italy) underlined how journalism could be the “next big thing” and how the audience in Italy was finally ready to pay for media content, especially through devices such as smartphones and tablets.
 
A concluding address on “Europe today and the media” was delivered by Erhard Busek, former Vice-Chancellor of Austria, President of the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe, Coordinator Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI).
 
During SEEMF, the annual CEI-SEEMO Award for Outstanding Merits in Investigative Journalism was presented, while Freedom House Romania and KAS presented “The Young Journalist of the Year Award 2015” (TJA).
 
The next 2016 edition of SEEMF will be held in Belgrade.
 
The SEEMF is a CEI Feature Event supported by the CEI Cooperation Fund
 
  • Photo gallery available here
  • Video-interviews with some participants are available here
 
 

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