Recent developments in Poland and Turkey epitomise how seriously the EU is faced with a growing number of media freedom violations both in its member states and among candidate countries, whit journalists and media professionals targeted on a daily basis with threats, censorship and intimidations limiting the circulation of independent information.
While concerns over the issue are increasing at European level, Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso (OBC) and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) have launched www.rcmediafreedom.euan online platform that enables journalists, policy-makers, scholars, and citizens to access up-to-date materials on media freedom and pluralism in Europe.
News organizations standing up for the safety of media professionals
UNESCO is organizing an international conference for the decision makers of news organizations, especially the owners, publishers, and editor-in-chiefs. This follows UNESCO Executive Board 196/Decision 31 which requests “the Director-General to convene a conference with high level representatives of news organizations from all regions, including community media and small media outlets, open to stakeholders, to be fully funded by extra-budgetary contributions, in order for them to share good practices on the safety of journalists and more proactively highlight the issue of journalist safety”.
Last week, the Pew Research Center released Crowdfunded Journalism: A Small but Growing Addition to Publicly Driven Journalism. The report highlights that, while contributions to crowdfunding journalism are modest compared with other categories, it is indeed a growing trend. The report found that crowdfunding represents a new, niche segment of nontraditional journalism, gives voice and visibility to efforts that otherwise would likely slip under the radar, provides new sources of sustainability, and contributes to public engagement.
“It’s fair to say that the Edward Snowden leaks, which revealed top-secret and wide-ranging surveillance programs run by government agencies such as the NSA and the GCHQ, has been the biggest journalistic scoop of the decade. What people may not know is that the now-famous journalist who scooped the story, Glenn Greenwald, was a freelancer.”
In 2015 hate-speech became a mainstream concern for news media. Violent propaganda from media-savvy terrorists, loose language from populist politicians and bigoted journalism from the likes of Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins over the migration and refugee crisis have all put journalists and editors on their guard. In today’s digital environment everyone can have their say but very often the discourse is poisoned by hate and intolerance.
Every time Islamic State releases a video, editors are acutely aware that they are being invited to a Danse Macabre. The finely calibrated degree of violence within the video is matched with high production values to create maximum impact. A recent video released by Isis was 11 minutes long and featured a man, in military-style fatigues speaking with an apparent English accent, who delivered a “message” to David Cameron before five men, described by Isis as spies, were executed.
It has been a testing year for journalism. It began with 10 journalists and cartoonists among those killed by terrorists in the unconscionable massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Within hours the EJN published an article advising journalists to defend free speech but also to lower the temperature, to eliminate hate speech and to avoid encouraging acts of revenge or abuse of Muslims. We called for “slow journalism” and for newsrooms to think carefully about how to handle the story.