How to address public concern over media freedom?

22 Sep 2023

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The Committee for Editorial Independence of the media house Economia has published a report Addressing Public Concern over Media Freedom, presenting essential recommendations for journalists, publishers, legislators and regulators in the Visegrád region and beyond. The report is informed by the Media Freedom Poll 2023, the most comprehensive public opinion survey on media freedom ever undertaken in Poland, Hungary, Czechia, and Slovakia. The survey, supported by Reporters Without Borders and the Bakala Foundation, shows growing concerns of the public in relation to media freedom in the Visegrád region. Based on the poll’s insights, the Committee has proposed a set of recommendations aimed at stimulating a recovery in public trust by proactively enhancing journalistic integrity, championing media independence and strengthening public faith in quality media. Here is the summary of recommendations:

1. Strengthen EU solidarity for Visegrád media

The escalating threats facing media independence across the EU, particularly within the Visegrád Group, demand swift and robust support for the European Media Freedom Act. This Act stands as a vital first step in preserving the bedrock principles of our democratic institutions.

2. Advocate for transparent ownership models

Given the critical importance of media independence highlighted in our survey, it is imperative that transparency requirements within the European Media Freedom Act are adopted and enhanced. Transparent ownership models can restore public trust and provide clarity on influence.

3. Endorse robust governance for editorial independence

Addressing the mounting concerns over editorial freedom, especially in the V4, requires the backing of strong governance structures like Editorial Independence Committees. By doing so, we reinforce the commitment to free and objective journalism.

4. Boost national journalist associations with self-regulation

Our data suggests a significant trust in professional journalistic bodies to uphold media freedom in the V4. To harness this, we recommend vigorously promoting genuinely representative and independent national journalistic associations empowered with self-regulating mandates.

5. Enhance the role of the Board for Media Services

Recognising the escalating concerns over media freedom in the Visegrád region and the need for broader cooperation on journalistic values and standards, we propose the European Commission’s proposed European Board for Media Services goes beyond mere regulation. It should be empowered to coordinate, advocate for, and set EU-wide media ethics and standards. Such a move will not only set a benchmark for media standards but also protect and champion media freedom in the face of increasing threats, both political and private.

6. Raise awareness of organisations championing journalistic cooperation

With entities like Reporters Without Borders, the IPI and the European Federation of Journalists playing a pivotal role in fostering international cooperation among journalists, it is essential to prioritise and bolster awareness of organisations championing quality media.

Read the full report here.