Press Freedom Day: How are the media faring?

To mark World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, Reporters Without Borders has published a report with a ranking comparing the situation for journalists in 180 countries in areas such as safety, independence and access to information. Commentators warn of potential dangers but also see cause for optimism.

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The Irish Times (IE) /

EU Media Freedom Act is crucial

The Irish Times stresses:

“Even in the EU, media freedom stands 'perilously close to breaking point' in several countries, the Civil Liberties Union for Europe, a human rights watchdog, warns. It points to the link between press freedom and the rule of law - and how both are under threat in some increasingly authoritarian member states like Hungary. Hence the importance of new EU legislation, the European Media Freedom Act, which curbs the use of all-too-common abusive 'strategic lawsuits against public participation' ... restricts the use of spyware against journalists, allows journalists to protect sources, and requires transparency over media ownership.”

Magyar Narancs (HU) /

Hungary has taught us what to avoid

Unfortunately the EU's Media Freedom Act comes too late for Hungary, media specialist Gábor Polyák laments in Magyar Narancs:

“The process of bringing the Hungarian media system under political control is already complete. Some independent media are still fighting for survival, but only within the framework defined by Fidesz. And there is no easy way back legally, as the example of Poland clearly shows. We would need at least a two-thirds majority in parliament. Nevertheless, the EU Media Freedom Act could make the work of Fico, Kaczyński, Janša, Babiš, Wilders, Kickl and Le Pen more difficult. Unfortunately, Hungary's role in this is limited to having provided the know-how.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Better times ahead

In a letter published in Le Temps, Dominique Diserens, former general secretary of the Swiss journalists' association impressum, offers hope to media professionals:

“Your current situation is very uncomfortable. There's one restructuring after another. ... But you should be aware that there are plans at the legislative level. For a start, there's state aid for the media. ... There is also a plan for 'neighbouring rights' that could relieve the burden on publishers and provide journalists with some remuneration. ... Perhaps there will also be remuneration in connection with artificial intelligence. ... Your sector is changing, and as difficult as things may seem at the moment, better times may lie ahead.”