MEDIA - Spain | 26/11/2015

Rajoy evading real election campaign

Ahead of the parliamentary election on December 20 Spain's conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is willing to face his socialist rival Pedro Sánchez in just a single televised debate. His People's Party (PP) is shielding him from real debates that include the leading candidates of Ciudadanos and Podemos, Ignacio Escolar writes in annoyance on his blog with the leftist website "The PP has come to the very sad conclusion that the best it can do is to keep its campaign small and campaign only in places where people don't ask awkward questions; the less the president is heard and the less talk there is about policies ahead of the election, the better. The PP prefers the elections to be discussed in light entertainment and sports programmes. …His avoidance of  journalists, press conferences, parliament and now also electoral debates is a reflection of the lack of transparency and the weak democratic principles of Mariano Rajoy." (26/11/2015)

La Stampa - Italy | 25/11/2015

Vatican wants to gag journalists

The trial against two Italian journalists accused of publishing sensitive documents on the Curia commenced on Tuesday in the Vatican. The case is an outrageous violation of press freedom, the liberal daily La Stampa rails: "It is unacceptable that Italian citizens whose books are published in Italy risk being sentenced to a maximum of eight years in prison by another state. They published news, facts, and incontestable documentation that has been corroborated by incontestable sources. The truth is that these facts, news and data are of indisputable relevance to the public interest. What's more, their publication has been deemed admissible by the Italian constitution and the European Court of Justice and is backed up by numerous rulings which hold that the public interest must prevail even if a state secret is violated." (25/11/2015)

Eesti Rahvusringhääling - Estonia | 24/11/2015

Too many terror warnings only create panic

The media are caught up in a race to provide news updates on the terrorist attacks that do little to clarify the situation, the website of the Estonian broadcaster ERR complains: "Sometimes we have to stop and ask ourselves if the race among the media - above all among the online media with their ability to provide quick updates - serves any purpose at all. Does it help us, and above all does it help our audiences? That is the question that must guide us, regardless of profit margins. This is particularly relevant at times when the mood is very tense in many European countries. What is our moral duty to our readers, listeners or viewers - to pour even more fuel on the fire, or to make events more understandable to them?" (24/11/2015)

Cumhuriyet - Turkey | 20/11/2015

Prize for Cumhuriyet speaks volumes about Turkey

The human rights organisation Reporters Without Borders has awarded the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet its Media of the Year prize. The newspaper was being targeted with legal actions, Internet blockades and smear campaigns "because of its coverage of taboo topics like the Kurdish issue and the Armenian genocide", the jury said explaining its decision. The Kemalist paper comments: "On a personal level we're proud to see our paper top such a list. But we are ashamed of our country. Turkey ranks lower than Ethiopia in the Press Freedom Index: it ranks 149th among 180 countries. … The Cumhuriyet family is proud to receive this award together with colleagues from all over the world who are defending themselves against oppression. Those who are responsible for the fact that we are competing with dictatorships like Syria and Ethiopia should be ashamed." (20/11/2015)

Gość Niedzielny - Poland | 19/11/2015

Poles shouldn't take Western press so seriously

The Polish government's plans have been heavily criticised in Western European Media over the last few days. The Catholic website Gość Niedzielny advises the Poles not to take such criticism so seriously: "Naturally it's always good to get on with one's neighbours. But the Western media's griping about the Polish government is a bit like when the esteemed ladies of the neighbourhood criticise us when we start renovating our house. The government hasn't even started governing yet. And even if they criticise the new colour of the house, are you really going to repaint it or pull down the façade you've just built? Not likely, because what matters is what you like. So we should care about what the Western newspapers are saying as much as we care about our neighbours' whispered criticism." (19/11/2015)

Gazeta Polska Codziennie - Poland | 19/11/2015

Populist state media in Poles' interests

Liberal newspapers have harshly criticised the plans of the new PiS government in Poland to reform the state media. The national conservative daily Gazeta Polska Codziennie argues that the PiS is only enacting the people's will with the reform: "The commentaries by journalists who sympathised with the former government highlight how desperate they are. … This only shows how weak the PO is, along with the current mainstream, which will hopefully grow even weaker in the coming months. The clamour about Kaczyński trying to expropriate the state-run media is unfounded. And the goal is not to have the media dominated by a certain party but to put it back in the hands of the people. The media will finally be the property of the Polish public once more, and serve society as a whole." (19/11/2015)

Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland | 18/11/2015

PiS taking control of state media

The new national conservative PiS government has presented specific data about how it plans to reform the state-run media in Poland. The liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza is less than optimistic about the results: "The new government wants to bring the media completely under its control. Several times in the past Kaczyński has blamed media that allegedly worked against him for his election defeats since 2005. This shows that the PiS has learned from past mistakes. Now the media are to help it remain in power. … The state-owned media will be run by a one-man management board elected by a five-member body, which in turn is chosen by the Sejm and the Senate - or effectively by the PiS. It speaks volumes about this media revolution that this one-man board can be dismissed at any time without having to wait until the legislative period comes to an end." (18/11/2015)

Libération - France | 04/11/2015

Photos of dead refugees no longer taboo

Roughly 70 babies have drowned in the Aegean Sea since the refugee boy Aylan died at the start of September, the spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees announced on Twitter last week. The rise in the number of press photos of dead refugees testifies to a change in attitude, the centre-left daily Libération comments: "It seems as if photographers, who are often stunned to witness the eternal tragedy of deadly borders and unreachable harbours, are no longer refraining from turning their cameras on the bodies of children and adolescents. With the strange posthumous stardom imposed on Aylan a taboo has been broken. Who do these images belong to, and should we show them? The truth is that there's no answer to this question, except when the force of events breaks through prohibitions and reservations and obliges us to take another look at these gazes that we will never see again." (04/11/2015)

Neatkarīgā - Latvia | 04/11/2015

Shameful Facebook mockery of Russian victims

After a Russian passenger jet crashed over the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday a number of Latvians have posted anti-Russian comments on social media. The national conservative daily Neatkarīgā is appalled at this hateful outpouring: "We should sympathise with all the innocent people who died. In this case it is irrelevant whether they spoke Russian or Latvian. Death makes everyone equal. Unfortunately major differences exist during people's lives. Comments like the following can be found on Facebook: 'No sympathy. The more dead Russians, the better for Latvia.' … Sadly the number of people who publicly express their hatred can't be counted on the fingers of one hand. There are many who believe the mass murder of innocent people can do something good for Latvia. How can people rejoice over such pointless and terrible deaths? This 'enjoyment' points to a brutal mindset that sees everything that is tragic but doesn't involve ourselves as a funny topic for Twitter or Facebook." (04/11/2015)

Eesti Rahvusringhääling - Estonia | 03/11/2015

No censorship at Estonia's state broadcaster

A protocol from a meeting of the board of directors of the Estonian state broadcaster surfaced last week in which the director recommended ignoring supporters of the legalisation of cannabis in news reporting. But the editorial desks won't be swayed by such recommendations, writes Kooli Rain, editor-in-chief of the broadcaster's online portal: "The opinion of the board of directors is always important, there can be no doubt about that. Nevertheless the decisive question is whether these opinions influence editorial decisions. Unfortunately, however, none of the reports on purported censorship have looked into this matter. Or they have simply assumed that in line with the logic of the flagships of private media - Postimees and Ekspress Meedia - editors-in-chief are also members of the board. That would mean that administrative and editorial power lie in the same hands. At the state broadcaster, however, things are different. There is no editor-in-chief on the board of directors, and no member of the board has a say in editorial meetings." (03/11/2015)

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