How is press freedom faring in Europe?
NGO Reporters Without Borders published its 20th World Press Freedom Index to mark World Press Freedom Day yesterday. The ranking takes into account factors such as media legislation, violence against media professionals and monopolisation. Europe's press seizes the opportunity for a good look in the mirror.
Buying positive coverage
Austria dropped from 17th to 31st place in the ranking. The blog dieSubstanz.at analyses the causes:
“The reasons are complex, ranging from attacks on journalists at Covid demonstrations to police harassment to corruption in advertising. ... The amount of government advertising is pretty unique in an international comparison. Reporters Without Borders detects a lack of interest on the part of politicians to push for more funding for media and to spend less money on advertising (in change for positive coverage). So far the call for a meaningful media funding law that promotes quality media instead of the tabloid press has gone unheard, the report concludes.”
Turkey has lost out 100 percent
Yetkin Report is dismayed:
“The 90 percent government control the RSF report points to is a point that deserves special emphasis. This means that only one in 10 news channels, from newspaper to radio, has no affiliation with the government. The survival of this remaining media does not always create an ideal environment for producing and disseminating independent and quality news. Sometimes a newspaper that is left behind falls under the control of counter-propaganda, opposing politics and interest groups.”
The left-wing Avgi comments on the situation in Greece:
“Whereas the Mitsotakis government managed to bring Greece down just five places in the index (from 65th to 70th), in 2022 Greece 'surprisingly' dropped 38 places and now occupies spot 108 - the lowest ranking among EU countries, but also behind many countries in Asia, America and Africa. In other words, in the area of press freedom Greece ranks 108th out of the 180 countries across the globe that were included in the study put out by Reporters Without Borders. This means that when it comes to press freedom, Greece performs worse than Ukraine, Albania, Angola, Tunisia, Georgia, Israel, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, Kosovo.”
Journalists losing their antibodies
Commenting on Deutsche Welle's Romanian service website, journalist Sabina Fati stresses the dangers of self-censorship:
“The big [Romanian] media bosses are inextricably linked to politics and business - most of them have been involved in corruption cases or even spent time in prison, while others are trying to avoid conviction. Journalists who work for media run by such compromised bosses have learned self-censorship. It's become second nature to them. ... When you get hired somewhere, you get to know your employer's sensitivities, interests and political orientation, and you respect them. The phenomenon of self-censorship is far more dangerous than censorship itself, because journalists risk losing their antibodies.”