Access to media big concern at Citizens’ Cabinet


The Citizens’ Cabinet on media delivered some 40 policy ideas to minister Sven Gatz this week, as they debated the merits and drawbacks of various news sources

About 100 people took part in the Citizen’s Cabinet Media
About 100 people took part in the Citizen’s Cabinet Media

‘I have a lot of homework’

Media minister Sven Gatz welcome about 100 citizens to the Flemish parliament at the weekend to talk about how they take in media and concerns they have about it. The currently media landscape, he said earlier this year when he launched the Citizens’ Cabinet Media, is entirely different than it was even 10 years ago.

Over the last couple of months, anyone who wanted could leave comments on the Citizens’ Cabinet website or take part in live, online debates. Ideas were chosen, and 100 people who took part in online discussions were invited to the event at the weekend.

All sources of news were on the agenda, including internet, newspapers, TV and radio. Among the themes discussed were fake news, “everyone’s a journalist” and a look into the future of media.

One specific idea was to provide subsidies to those who could not pay for internet service providers as it is impossible to keep up with the news today without access to the internet. The citizens also discussed the importance of impartial voices and expert opinions in the news.

Final Citizens’ Cabinet

Participants were also concerned about access to media for those with a physical or mental disabilities and suggested that they be included in the news production process. “I do want to address public broadcasters to make sure that they take this population into account when delivering the news,” said Gatz.

The event ended with some 40 policy ideas for Gatz to explore. “I have a lot of homework once again, but it’s a good kind of homework,” the minister said. “The citizens were very enthusiastic, and there were also many young people present. I was happy to see that.”

The minister has already held Citizens’ Cabinets on youth, culture and the Flemish relationship with Brussels, all policy areas under his remit. Media was the final subject in his policy areas.

Photo courtesy Sven Gatz