Eesti Rahvusringhääling - Estonia | 22/05/2015

Hashtag activism unites society

The far-right Estonian politician Jaak Madison tweeted last week about a song in Russian that was played during a basketball game, using the hashtag #absurd. This triggered a campaign in which many used the same hashtag to poke fun at Madison. The website of the Estonian national broadcaster is delighted at this reaction: "Online activism is usually a short-lived phenomenon. The topic soon goes out of fashion to be replaced by something new. And yet online activism can have a positive impact. Firstly campaigns like the #absurd campaign on Twitter create virtual communities. Like-minded people come together and realise that they're not alone in the way they think and feel. Even if the consequence is a fragmented world in which communities live in parallel realities, such campaigns help to promote trust in society and improve the climate of political debate." (22/05/2015)

Neatkarīgā - Latvia | 21/05/2015

Lithuanian president loses her magic in Latvia

In a televised interview this week, Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaitė refused to answer two questions which hadn't received her prior approval. She withheld her views on the introduction of gay marriage in Lithuania and the collapse of a supermarket in Riga. For the nationalist conservative daily Neatkarīgā Grybauskaitė lost her credibility in the interview: "On that evening the Latvians saw the president of their neighbouring country, otherwise so perfect and popular because of her wonderful speeches, in a different light. To be more precise, they saw her for what she is, because the person the Latvians so adore is just an illusion. The king is naked and there's no reason to worship him. Now it's clear what Grybauskaitė thinks about democracy. ... The Latvians should rethink their admiration for Grybauskaitė and her grandiloquent phrases." (21/05/2015)

Radikal - Turkey | 20/05/2015

Erdoğan attacks Hürriyet - and democracy

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday accused the daily Hürriyet of insinuating in an article on the death sentenced recently passed on former Egyptian president Morsi that it wishes him the same fate. The paper on Monday rejected the allegations as unfounded in an open letter, invoking the freedom of opinion. It's disgraceful for an influential paper to be attacked in this way, the liberal online newspaper Radikal writes: "Perhaps the goal is to repeat the strategy used in the last elections and gain one or two percentage points on June 7 by targeting Hürriyet and the Doğan Media Group with populist speeches. But on the long term that won't benefit Turkey because it not only means a blow to our country's democracy and economy. It also threatens to deepen the rift between Turkey and the EU and shift Turkey's democratic, secular and constitutional model in the direction of what we're seeing in the Middle East." (20/05/2015)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands | 20/05/2015

Money takes control at De Telegraaf

The editor-in-chief of the tabloid De Telegraaf was fired on Sunday evening, apparently after a row over publisher TMG's future influence on how the paper is edited. Journalistic independence is being sacrificed for money, the centre-left daily De Volkskrant criticises: "TMG has been getting bad results for years, making poor investments and pursuing a zigzag course. … But the company is determined to go on. Parts [of the paper] are no longer to be under the editor-in-chief's control. The working agreement between publishers and editors, the symbol of journalistic independence, is being brushed aside with the help of lawyers. Who will ensure that advertising clients, for example, don't have any say on journalistic content? Pluralist and independent journalism is the oxygen of democracy. It's worrying that the structures that protect it can so easily be annulled." (20/05/2015)

Libération - France | 19/05/2015

Solidarity for press freedom icon Charlie Hebdo

Luz, the head cartoonist at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, announced on Monday that he plans to leave the publication come September. The paper is going through a crisis having to do among other things with how to distribute the profits registered since the attacks in January. The left-liberal daily Libération is not surprised by the current difficulties: "Traumatised and exhausted, the morally - and in some cases  even physically - wounded members of the Charlie Hebdo team have become a symbol for the freedom to draw and - against their will - to blaspheme. So it comes as no surprise that the internal differences that exist at any lively publication have been exacerbated in this office where half the editors are dead and the other half have been flooded by a twin deluge of money and fame, and are permanently harried by other media. ... There is only one dignified way to behave in this affair: we must continue to express profound solidarity with these anti-heroes who show their courage while admitting their weaknesses." (19/05/2015)

Magyar Nemzet - Hungary | 11/05/2015

Online media create distorted view of reality

People who get their news from the Internet invariably lose their orientation and sense of reality due to the massive flow of information, the conservative daily Magyar Nemzet complains: "In Hungary, too, an entire generation of young people has grown up who have never held a printed newspaper or magazine. They read their news exclusively on their computers or smartphones - to the extent that they read at all, that is. In and of itself that would not be a problem. But the situation is exacerbated by the fact that the 'news' provided by these sources generally does not bear much relation to the events going on around us. We're talking about 20 or 25 lines in the best of cases, in the worst only six or eight. Hundreds of such 'news items' appear daily on any given online portal. In view of the shortness of these texts, the authors have no chance to explain the wider context. And as a result the readers only get a vague glimpse of reality from such 'news'." (11/05/2015)

Dennik N - Slovakia | 12/05/2015

Fico doesn't care about citizens or press freedom

Annoyed at how he has been portrayed in cartoons, the left-leaning Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico has told his ministers not to provide information to the liberal daily Dennik N in future. On the front page of the paper editor-in-chief Matúš Kostolný accuses Fico of attacking the freedom of the press: "What the government is doing is dangerous and doesn't just affect journalists. He is telling readers, listeners and viewers that the government couldn't care less about them. ... When Fico was in the opposition he loved the media. That changed when he himself started to govern. Since then he has been attacking the media with lawsuits, insults, a press law and now a silence that hinders journalists' work. Journalists too can make mistakes. The prime minister can defend himself against them, if necessary in court. But instead he has gagged his ministers and then the journalists. The ministers are remaining silent. The journalists won't." (12/05/2015)

Keskisuomalainen - Finland | 11/05/2015

Lower VAT for Finnish online media

The Norwegian government last week announced plans to abolish its 25 percent value added tax for web portals in a bid to strengthen Norway's media industry. Lowering certain taxes would also be good for Finland, the liberal daily Keskisuomalainen writes: "If the new parliament wants to promote national media diversity and create jobs in the sector it would be worth considering using the Norwegian model for Finland too. The digitisation of the media is currently being slowed down by a high, 24-percent VAT. As an EU member state Finland can't just abolish this VAT but simply lowering it to the same level as the tax for print newspapers and books [10 percent at present] could help boost media company growth. At the same time parliament would show that it recognises the social mission of newspapers and books that promote education and democracy." (11/05/2015)

Politiken - Denmark | 06/05/2015

Media must say no to Muhammad cartoons

An attack on an exhibition of Muhammad cartoons in Texas last Sunday has triggered a new debate about the limits of freedom of expression. We need to distance ourselves from the attackers, but this doesn't justify reprinting the cartoons, the liberal daily Politiken comments: "At the same time there has to be a limit to what the media feel entitled to do in the name of freedom of expression. ... In Europe, US newspapers are often accused of being too politically correct. The events in Dallas, however, are a good example of why one must be allowed to say no to the reprinting of all kinds of strange drawings. Freedom of expression also entails the right to distance ourselves from an initiative that deserves mockery and derision more than anything else." (06/05/2015)

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