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European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies

Press freedom in Europe under pressure: New report highlights alarming trends

Press freedom and journalism in Europe are under increasing pressure: the newly released Media Pluralism Monitor (MPM), by the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom at the EUI, clearly shows evidence of the worsening situation across our continent, with no country immune from this trend.

27 June 2024 | Publication - Research

Visual promoting the Media Pluralism Monitor 2024 with a speedometer and a timeline marking ten years of the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom assessing risks to media pluralism

Precarious working conditions for journalists, threats to their safety, and the increasing number of vexatious lawsuits are among the most significant problems demanding systematic solutions. In Croatia, 945 ongoing lawsuits against journalists were reported in 2023, with 910 of these stemming from defamation claims. Similar alarming situations are observed in Albania, Italy, and Greece. Italy, in particular, shows a troubling pattern with a growing number of criminal and civil lawsuits filed against journalists, including actions initiated by government officials.

Hate speech and online attacks, especially targeting female journalists, are also on the rise, often perpetrated by the very political elites who should protect journalists and their role as democracy’s watchdogs. In half of the European countries analysed, the indicator on ‘Digital safety’ scored a high risk. Such is the case of Slovakia, where the risk score significantly increased after major media outlets were labeled as ‘enemies’ by the Prime Minister.

Another alarming trend emerging from the report concerns editorial independence, which records a historic high-risk level this year. Commercial pressures compromise editorial independence, with media owners and advertisers influencing coverage. Surveys of journalists indicate that many perceive their work is influenced by advertising considerations. For instance, in Spain, only 24% of the journalists surveyed said they had not felt pressure from their own company or external economic and political agents. Transparency regarding conflicts of interest remains inadequate, necessitating stronger safeguards.

“In ten years of implementing the Media Pluralism Monitor, we have observed the emergence of many new challenges in parallel with the digital transformation. Today, more than ever, there is a dire need to support journalism and media pluralism. We look forward to assessing the effects of the European Media Freedom Act in the Member States and call on governments to commit to protecting press freedom as a pillar of our democracy,” said Pier Luigi Parcu, Director of the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom.

The Monitor report features a series of actionable recommendations to governments, European Institutions, media authorities and civil society organisations to improve protection of media pluralism across Europe. In addition to the general MPM report, researchers have prepared 32 reports specifically focusing on the EU27 and candidate countries, which are also available in their respective national languages. Each country is assessed based on the average risk score for different indicators.

For more information, including country-specific reports, visit the CMPF website.


Last update: 27 June 2024

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