The countries of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – the so-called Visegrad countries – are very different, but they all share a troubled political past and have media communities caught in the cross re of populism, nationalism and intolerance.

In the face of increasing self-censorship and pressure on newsrooms the Ethical Journalism Network has developed a programme of support for ethical journalism in the region to counter media dependence on political influence and falling editorial standards.

According to the 2017 World Press Freedom Index all four countries show a decline with Hungary lowest in 71st place and Poland in 54th place and according to the Centre for European Pluralism and Media Freedom media are suffering from undue political influence with serious threats to press freedom and pluralism identified in Poland and Hungary.

In December 2017 Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic were referred to the European Court of Justice over their refusal to take refugees under the European Union’s mandatory quota system. These countries are EJN priorities for action to defend journalism and media independence.

The programme proposal of the Ethical Journalism Network aims to help national media counter this growing information crisis by helping journalists to

  1. confront hate-speech, misinformation, so-called fake news and undue political influence;
  2. promote good governance, transparency and editorial independence in the management and ownership of news media;
  3. build fresh links with civil society and the media audience to increase trust in journalism.

The EJN is working with key media support groups and international organisations and will be launching its programme in 2018. The target groups are journalists and media managers and the methodology proposed will promote fresh ways of working to improve the capacity of media to deal with current political and commercial challenges.


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