Author: Fairpress editorial
It is stressed that in today’s world, populist leaders constitute a major threat to free expression in open societies such as the United States of America and Europe. Namely, as it is stated in the mentioned report, populist leaders are intentionally denouncing critical media and their coverage as biased, and the factual information they report as “fake,” weakening their credibility and leaving citizens unsure whom to believe. The leaders then have more leeway to dictate their own narrative and divert attention from corruption and other abuses.
Regarding the U.S. the report says that president Donald Trump’s use of threatening rhetoric and his repeated disparagements of specific journalists and outlets have undermined public trust in fact-based journalism. However, the positive thing is that media organizations and independent journalists have maintained robust coverage of the administration and other topics of public interest.
As far as Russia is concerned, the Russian government took further steps to control the internet, adopting various new legislation, such as a law requiring messaging applications and other online services to identify their users, a new government strategy calling for all information infrastructure to be consolidated under state control by 2030 and so on.
When writing about Europe the report mentions the media landscape and situation in Hungary, Turkey and Serbia. As it is
Regarding countries that might experience important media freedom developments in the coming year, the report lists the following: Cuba, Iran, Mexico, Poland, Spain, Tunisia, Uzbekistan and Zambia.
Further regarding journalists the report states that even as they face harassment and arrest in a growing number of countries, their work can still expose egregious abuses, help victims find safety, and hold the corrupt and the dishonest to account. In dictatorships and democracies alike, courageous journalists have defied powerful interests to bring stories to the public, enabling their audiences to take action and bring about real change.
It is also stressed that if the free press, an essential component of democratic governance, is to survive as such, other elements of the democratic immune system must work to support it. These include opposition parties, an impartial judicial system, civil society organizations, and, most important, citizens—those who provide the revenue that keeps journalists in business and the votes that keep politicians in power.
The full special report is available here
This article was created with the support of the Fund for the Promotion of Pluralism and Diversity of Electronic Media within the project “Media Reality” – Developing and Encouraging the Media Literacy Programme