Speech by Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen at conference on Global Investigative Journalism, April 26, 2001
“The Space of Power”
First of all – thank you for inviting me to come here today. You have had an early start this morning!
But never the less, I welcome you to Copenhagen. I have been told that this conference is the first of its kind. And of course, we are proud to see you here. I was told that 36 nations including Eastern European countries and Russia are represented here today – that is impressive. So I feel that in this wonderful small city, we have met to exchange for the first time some thoughts about what we can do. I mean, when economic forces are becoming globalised and political forces in some sense too - or I hope they will be - it is time that journalism becomes globalised as well.
Once, the hero of journalism was the foreign correspondent - the Man. Yes, it usually was a man who reported from countries far away, adding the exotic touch to news reporting. He would bring the latest news from important political capitals or just let us know how April felt in Paris, while we were still freezing here in Denmark. Things have changed. The new journalistic hero is one who knows his or her home base, but at the same time has the contacts and the tools and investigates the local problems, in a global context.
The intertwinement of global and local globalisation is clearly changing the terms and rules of journalist craft. I am happy to see this conference here as I said, and I hope that you will have some good days of exchanging news, discussing and forming for the first time a sort of global basis for how to work in this new world.
The world globalisation tends to be used with negative connotations these days, but our close involvement is also showing us, how much we can learn from each other and how alike we are in many ways.
The world that we politicians and journalist live in can sometimes feel rather stuffy. We know each other. Each of us have our roles in space of power, and I believe we all can guess what the other is going to say in the various situations.
It is fair to say also that journalism in the modern world is part of the space of power. Journalism is not only in itself a critical fundamental voice in modern democracy. But it is also forming an agenda of political character in the space of power. It is fundamental to realize this double role of modern journalism, because otherwise we go across each other in a way, which I feel is not covering the whole issue.
Journalists and the media have an important role to play in our democratic society - that is clear. You must be the famous watchdog; you must be able to see through the power dealings. The things you write and say matters. You must be selective; you must be critical all the time. And still you are part of the space of power. You are here as an interacting part of the space of power. And you should be aware of this. Be conscious about it and have this as an issue on your agenda. You must take care that the result of cooperation and globalisation and journalism will not just be more of the same. No branding of journalism, please. Maintaining the diversity of news reporting.
In Denmark, it has been noted that even though we get an increasing amount and variety of news media, the news have become more and more alike. The same story, the same angle in all the media. And the same small group of comments from the same small group of people. The more diversity the more uniformity.
This is not the way I think we should go. I think we should compete. I think, we should have diversity and I think we should have more anti-uniformity - if you like.
Journalism must not become industrialized with standardized products offered on a global level. Journalism must not become a passive project of the concentration of ownership in media, in economics or a concentration of politics - if you like. I mean, now we are saying goodbye to the old industrialized countries and hello to the new knowledge based economy. It would be a pity if the only group of workers remaining in the new world were industry workers and journalism, if you understand what I mean.
Therefore, I think that we have to be quite honest to each other. We have to analyse the phenomena globalisation. And we have to discuss freely how could we react according to this. But before coming to this I would like to raise another issue with you.
It is clear that when the outlook and activities of business and other powerful parts of society have become global, journalism has to adopt a global outlook. That is without question.
To some people, global is equal to difficulties, differences, and feeling of will I fit in? Can I live in a new global world, what about my children, will they have their education? What about elderly people, can they live in social security in the future? Some have access others have not – we should be careful avoiding a new divide in the world between those who have access to globalised media, to Internet, to globalised information, channels and those who have not.
Having said that, some few comments on the globalisation itself. I have already said that I have seen in Europe at least, strong tendencies of concentration of ownership in the media world. I think this is a phenomena we have to discuss, we have to analyse, and we have to take a stand.
We see concentration of ownership in each of our countries and we see it accross our countries, especially in the television, in the electronic world. How will you deal with it? Can you ensure as free independent individuals, which we all are, that you can act freely? That you can perform as you have decided yourself, when you began your career or will you meet now this industrialised project, as I mentioned before.
Second issue: The globalisation in itself demands globalised policy. We have just begun. If we look at the three interplaying powers in the world, economic power, political power and journalism, we have just begun as far as politicians are concerned.
I will say that the political power is the weakest one of the three. The political power has to formulate political answers to the globalised world. We have to formulate political answers to mark the economy in power. You know and I know that around 60-70 of the multinational companies in the world control more than half of the total trade in the world. All the marginalisation effects of the globalised market economy have to have political answers. And the only one who can formulate these is a politician. So the global phenomena or market economy has to have a political answer. And I am going to use as much as I can of my active political life to contribute to this globalised answer.
We see fraud and greediness on the global scene, which we have to formulate political answers to. Black money is washed to white money. Smuggling of people. Fraud in all its varieties. Economic crimes, which is so advanced now that again we have to find political answers.
Thirdly: the fundamentals of human rights have to be reformulated not covered but reformulated and activated in an offensive political cross frontier cooperation. And in a certain sense, I feel that Europe and the European region should be the basis for taking a global leadership on all these areas – because nobody else can – talking about environment and climate changes and the answers to that. I mean alone with the present discussions between Europe and the United States are underlining that a new political global leadership should take its part of departure from you.
Well, dear journalists. These were just a few comments to hopefully inspire your discussions and your conference these days.
I think it is important. I think it is a large human face for market economy. And I think that if this work is starting now by discussion across and between journalists and hopefully discussing even more actively across and between politicians and governments. Who knows? The day will come where this triangle, this eternal triangle in a modern world between journalism, economic power and political visions and perspective will assume a reasonable offer to the modern human being living in this tentive world.
That’s all I wanted to say – I wish you all a pleasant and before all very worth full conference.