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Newsweek Polska - Poland | 01/07/2015

Democracy must put up with ultraconservatives

Polish TV viewers have set up a Facebook page on which they demand that television stations stop inviting journalist Tomasz Terlikowski and theology professor Dariusz Oko because of their ultraconservative views. But such a measure disregards the pluralism of opinions, the liberal news magazine Newsweek Polska contends: "The fact is that the two have repeatedly insulted gays and lesbians, as well as proponents of artificial insemination - and in the most crude manner. .. But does that mean they should be boycotted? We've all got a zapper. We can change the channel and watch a football game, a film, the news or a lifestyle programme instead. ... The fact is that we live in a democracy and must come to terms with opinions that differ from our own - whether we like it or not." (01/07/2015)

Eesti Päevaleht - Estonia | 30/06/2015

Delfi ruling bad for modern journalism

According to the European Court of Human Rights' mid-June ruling on the Delfi case, the operators of websites are responsible for their users' offensive comments. In the liberal daily Eesti Päevaleht lawyer Karmen Turk voices doubt that this will be the end of the debate: "The online media in the 47 member states of the Council of Europe now have three options: they can continue with their comment platforms as before, they can make changes to them or they can end the 'conversation with the reader'. Former editor-in-chief of the Guardian Alan Rusbridger sees open journalism as the only way for digital media to survive. In this new form of journalism a reader-journalist dialogue takes place. … The court will hopefully soon have the opportunity to rule on a similar case and correct its judgement, because the current one raises more questions than it provides answers." (30/06/2015)

Latvijas Avīze - Latvia | 29/06/2015

Latvia's Media Council too pro-Russian

Two government and two opposition parties are demanding the dissolution of Latvia's National Electronic Mass Media Council. They accuse the body of being far too lenient regarding Russian propaganda. The national conservative daily Latvijas Avize also calls for a more stringent supervisory body, arguing that the Latvian state is too pro-Russian: "A few attempts to curb Russian propaganda were made last year when the Media Council banned the broadcasting of several Russian TV channels. Now it's far more convenient to dream of a new Russian-language TV channel in which one could invest millions, and wait to see how the new product goes down with the Russians. They aren't thinking of the political or ideological aspects this time: why does the state still cling to the idea of introducing Russian as a second official language even though the Latvians rejected this in a referendum? ... This could contribute to further Russification of the country. Therefore the desire for a more stringent media supervisory body is justified." (29/06/2015)

Lietuvos rytas - Lithuania | 23/06/2015

Trolls relax by posting hate comments

Journalist and author Aidas Puklevičius explains in the liberal daily Lietuvos rytas the psychological impact of last week's European Court of Human Rights ruling that websites are responsible for the content of anonymous user comments: "I have always tried to see every anonymous comment as having an important therapeutic function. The Internet has given all monotonous scribblers the illusion that their thoughts are interesting to someone. They can relax by writing a couple of vitriolic attacks online. … They fall into the sleep of the just and when they wake up they can do something useful for society for at least a couple of hours. What will these poor people do now that they have been deprived of the possibility of venting their anger online? I don't know." (23/06/2015)

Evrensel - Turkey | 19/06/2015

Turks couldn't care less about gagged media

The Turkish police detained four journalists at the Turkish-Syrian border crossing Akçakale on Tuesday. The journalists had put critical questions to the governor of Şanlıurfa province regarding the IS terrorist forces just over the border. In view of the Turks' apathy it's no wonder state attacks against the media are an everyday occurence, the left-leaning daily Evrensel writes: "The people have lost their interest in the news. ... If the people living in this country start fighting for their democratic rights and the freedom of information, the state will have to adapt. But as long as the people don't defend people who ask questions and champion the rights of journalists, as long as they don't claim their right to the news and demand true information from politicians, the vicious circle will continue." (19/06/2015)

Blog Adevărul - Romania | 18/06/2015

Romania neglects print media

The Romanian government decided last week to make 15 million euros available to audiovisual media that plan to produce informative and cultural programmes. As usual only television is getting the support, Mircea Vasilescu, chief editor of the weekly paper Dilema Veche complains on the blog of the liberal-conservative daily Adevărul: "With part of those 15 million euros the subscriptions for cultural magazines at public libraries or schools could be paid. But would this serve to promote education and culture? Not in Romania; television rules supreme here. … Television can do the job [the government believes]. After all, the print media will disappear anyway. In a couple of years we will be the first European country without any printed press, and then we can celebrate being part of the 'digital era'." (18/06/2015)

Eesti Päevaleht - Estonia | 17/06/2015

Delfi ruling bad for freedom of opinion

The ruling in the Delfi versus Estonia case will be difficult to put into practice, writes the daily newspaper Eesti Päevaleht, which belongs to the same media group as Delfi: "The fundamental question here is whether Europe's legislation takes account of the last decade's developments in the media. Blogs, Youtube, Facebook and other platforms have created a citizen journalism that exists parallel to professional journalism. Monitors can only react directly to insults and hate speeches. Preliminary censorship is possible only in theory and just as ineffective as the attempts to keep Russian propaganda out of the country. … The comment sections are an ideal platform for hate speech and ideal territory for trolls, people who deliberately try to poison public opinion. Democratic societies can deal with this. But countries where the freedom of opinion is already under pressure should observe this development very closely." (17/06/2015)

Delo - Slovenia | 17/06/2015

Censor hate commentaries on the web

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday in the case of Delfi vs. Estonia that website operators are responsible for offensive user comments. The judgement is harsh but everyday life shows how dangerous hate tirades can be, the liberal daily Delo argues: "Twenty-five years ago the slaughter in the Balkans started with hate speech, for example. Since then verbal violence has pervaded society. Insults, abuse and hate speech have become the norm. At times they are even rewarded with applause in parliament. If the right to free opinion and the right to personal dignity clash, the situation must be carefully assessed. So far the media have shied away from doing this, but now the onus is on them. The future will tell what the consequences will be, but the pressing need for this is clear even today." (17/06/2015)

Eesti Päevaleht - Estonia | 16/06/2015

Don't censor anonymous reader comments

The European Court of Justice in Strasbourg will hand down judgement in the Delfi vs. Estonia case today. The question is whether the web portal can be held responsible for anonymous comments and therefore must monitor the content posted by its readers. Chief editor Urmo Soonvald opposes such an obligation in the liberal daily Eesti Päevaleht, defending democratic rights: "The freedom of opinion is a sacrosanct value. It played a role in the independence of Estonia and will pave the way for the independence of many other states that are struggling for freedom. Anonymous freedom of opinion makes the relations around us more transparent. Nothing good can come of obscure, closed and controlled societies. And it's exactly the same thing if the content posted by users is controlled by censors who decide what is right and how people should think. People's opinions, and their right to spread them, must not be censored. That was the practise in Eastern Europe until 1989 when the system exploded with a bang." (16/06/2015)

Pesti Srácok - Hungary | 14/06/2015

German press conveys false image of Orbán

The criticism of the Hungarian government in German media is often fanciful and exaggerated, a recent study by the German Council on Foreign Relations shows. Boris Kalnoky, the Hungary correspondent of the German daily Die Welt, shares this view on the conservative news website Pesti Srácok: "It is unacceptable for the German press to write that the Hungarian government is racist, xenophobic, anti-Roma or anti-Semitic. … Individual German press organs have attacked Orbán mainly for three reasons: firstly, the liberal system of values doesn't like national conservative governments. While some German journalists are left-leaning, Viktor Orbán is right-oriented. Secondly, there is a problem with the editing: German editing departments use negative headlines for their articles about Hungary. Thirdly, this may just be a suspicion but I believe that the German journalists mentioned above have contacts with opposition politicians and parties in Hungary and adopt their views." (14/06/2015)

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