To form a public opinion that is purely European, without influences from the mainstream media too often influenced by the prevailing neoliberalism. This is the purpose of Media Alliance, the transform! Italy projects that aims to create a network between left-wing newspapers within the European Union. During the first public meeting of the project, Media Alliance: building a leftist European public opinion for the future of Europe, were present journalists and editors of newspapers and magazines from Austria, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Poland.
«It is necessary to build a political interaction. Can there be a European democracy without a European mass media service? It is the left that must take charge of this very serious democratic gap in front of which we find ourselves» noted in the opening Roberto Musacchio, who represented transform! Italy. «The pandemic is a concrete example that helps us to understand what we have to do and what we need. As transform! Italy we have tried to make it clear that the Covid-19 has gone to strike a social tissue already wounded. Learning from the media how other European countries faced such a difficult time would have been very useful for public opinion, but this did not happen. Above all, it was not possible to have a full left-wing view on how to deal with the pandemic», he concluded.
A point of view also taken by Gäel De Santis, journalist of the French L’Humanité: «It is necessary to look at other countries to understand what is at the level of public opinion, what are the dynamics that exist in the various European states and movements, how they move and how we have arrived at certain percentages of the right, trying to understand how the latter can win the ideological battle with the left, nullifying its efforts», he said. «In France, for example, there is a television channel owned by a billionaire who explains, according to the paradigms of the right, all the issues at the center of public debate. The left must find a way to intervene in the public debate, even by forming an international alliance. It is important to show that you are not alone in the battle, but that the same theme also involves people in Italy and other European countries», he said.
An alliance that also starts from common themes was the central point of the speech by Leonardo Filippi, journalist of the Italian magazine Left: «Our editorial staff believes in this project. Left was founded in 2006 and is a leftist weekly that is not associated with any party and does not receive public funding. We take care to give voice to all the fringes of the Italian left and to gather them to try to build a united front of the left. Among the themes that underlie our work are secularism, the rights of migrants and women, as well as the situation of workers of course», he explained. «If in Italy the state of the left from the point of view of the electoral percentages is not particularly rosy, it must be said that the reasons of the left are more alive than ever. A left that is European is not only more lively but is also stronger and a project like the one we are participating today undoubtedly helps to achieve this thing», concluded Filippi.
Małgorzata Kulbaczewska-Figat, a journalist for the Polish publication Strjke.eu, also agrees on the central importance of the issues to be tackled together, taking into account the European dimension that concerns us all: «We must discuss the issues that concern us, taking into account that we are citizens of many countries, but also citizens of a single community, the European one. Recovery after the pandemic will be at the center of the debate in the coming times, but we cannot forget another fundamental fight, that against inequalities», she said. «We must also ask ourselves how to combat the far-right forces that are advancing in Europe, how to succeed in freeing countries like Poland and Hungary from the right-wing populisms that are destroying everything that has been built thanks to European integration. Despite the slogans widespread at the beginning of the pandemic, our lives are not necessarily changing for the better, we must always keep it in mind», closed Kulbaczewska.
An interesting and very agreeable point of view was that proposed by Greece by Haris Golemis, journalist of Epohí: «It was the working classes who paid the highest price for the rescue of the nation, even at the time of the pandemic. Smart working should be a crucial point in left-wing debate across Europe. You cannot expect a drastic reduction in work from home, as employers are enthusiastic», he stressed. «We are facing a structural change in the capitalist system, accelerated and aggravated by the pandemic, which must be taken seriously by the trade unions and parties of the radical left throughout Europe. A similar system of work has had serious effects, including psychological ones, on workers. We can expect that, at the end of the pandemic, the European labour market will be in a worse situation than it was two years ago. We must cooperate to find answers to these very complex questions», concluded Golemis.
Central also the question raised by Milena Gegios, representative of transform! Europe and the Austrian media: «It would also be interesting to address the difficulties facing alternative media to the mainstream, what it means for a magazine not to be a mass media. On the left, in Austria, the Green Party failed to get enough within the center-right coalition government. We also recently witnessed the withdrawal of the Minister for Health, the representative of the Greens. There is much disappointment among voters about recent developments», she explained. A disappointment that also affects the Spanish voters of the autonomous community of Madrid, where the right of the Popular Party has triumphed again.
Gema Delgado, Mundo Obrero’s journalist from the Spanish capital, spoke of it: «There are many issues at stake, for the left-wing media, and very often we cannot cover them all by ourselves. We must make concrete the ideas of the left, which unfortunately sometimes tend to remain just ideas. Sometimes you need to talk to people in a language that is understandable to them, the one they use when they are at the bar with friends. Too often the right has taken advantage of it, just think that the electoral program for the Madrid elections of the PP consisted of only one word: “freedom”. They used basic ideas to win people over. That is why it is important to work together on the left, to overcome this way of working on the right, without forgetting the problems of work and people’s daily lives», she said. «Creating a European public opinion, a European left-wing public opinion, is not only a political operation, but also, and above all, a social one. If we do not do it from our sector, I do not know who could do it» said Argiris Panagopoulos, of the Greek newspaper Avgi. «It is necessary to begin to collaborate on the left without the rhetoric, taking great advantage of online media editions. There’s a fortune behind us that can help us with that. If we succeed in the enterprise, the effects will be multiple, much greater than the small effort at a national level», he concluded.
If the situation from the point of view of the individual national governments currently in power in EU countries is different, similar are the conditions of difficulty and lack of real pluralism in the world of information. The resolution in the European Parliament to “Ensure the safety of journalists, pluralism and freedom of the media”, adopted by a very large majority on 3 May 2018 and presented by the then MEP Barbara Spinelli, did not produce a real change. The Media Alliance that was proposed with the meeting organized by transform! Italy, addressed those who direct some of the left-wing newspapers that are published in the Member States, posing two basic questions: the state of information in the individual country and the elaboration of concrete proposals to improve the present conditions.
From France, Italy, and Greece, respectively with the directors of L’Humanité, (Patrick Le Hyaric), Left (Simona Maggiorelli), transform! Italy, (Roberto Morea), and with the representative of the collective of Epohí (Haris Golemis), starting from a common feeling, came interesting suggestions and proposals. In the three countries in which the newspapers are published, as in most of Europe, there are enormous difficulties in guaranteeing free and plural information. Everyone has observed that mainstream media are under the control of large economic and financial groups that dominate in the construction of society’s imagination. In Italy, agreed to Maggiorelli and Morea, the political framework is such that there is not even enough left-wing parliamentary opposition (the extreme right of the League rules with the Democratic Party), the television circuits are or lotted by “strong” parties or private and in the hands of groups such as Mediaset and La7, whose owners also control newspapers.
In this sense, Left, the director claimed, is an anomaly because it does not receive any funding and is owned by a “pure publisher”. Le Hyaric pointed out that almost total media control weighed on the management of the pandemic. In France, only L’Humanité openly criticizes the laws on patents for vaccines and few are those who denounce how in this phase not only has been criminalized dissent but they do not even show the social problems represented by the popular classes and workers. Golemis, in telling the picture in which Greece is, immediately posed the problem of how, starting from the meeting of the Media Alliance, we can begin to react. In his view, if it is difficult, for economic reasons, in particular, to change the balance of power in television information and in the press, something has been done and can still be improved through telematic channels.
Widen to other newspapers close and similar, the field of subjects with which to establish equal relations, start to regularly practice the exchange of articles that allow circulating news in different countries, creating a real network and, finally, the proposal to play other webinars until you think of a public meeting, perhaps at the party of L’Humanite. Epochí devotes 60% of its space to international issues. And Le Hyaric, accepting the invitation, relaunched with the idea of creating an “international space” for each of the newspapers available to enter the network. But, taking up the comments of the Italian newspapers, he insisted on the need to address the European institutions, from the Parliament, the Council, the Commission, and the Commissioner for Communications, because the issue of pluralism, of the fight against fake news and disinformation, concerns the entire continent. Morea finally proposed that a monthly insert should be created as soon as possible to collect suggestions from articles considered important, with European support and perspective in mind, to create a portal or site that can act as a sounding board for another opinion in Europe, to give voice to unheard of voices. A project that requires financial resources.
A portal that is not a “showcase” has taken up Maggiorelli, but a vehicle for building a broad and critical left regarding neoliberal policies. There are immediate dates from the Global Health Summit to the elections that took place in Madrid, which have spilled over across the continent and as such should be analyzed. Significant is the proposal for a petition to guarantee pluralism that could be signed by intellectual figures, sincere democrats, who take up the proposals of the Media Alliance. What is being created is a collective project that has the ambitious objective of creating space for a European and left-wing public opinion.