European Federation of Journalists

Romania: Media freedom mission ahead of super electoral year

Credits: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) will join a mission to Romania with the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR). The mission aims to take the pulse of the current state of press freedom and independent journalism as the country gears up for a super electoral year in 2024.

The mission will consist of two parts: an initial online fact-finding element involving meetings with media, journalists and civil society stakeholders, followed by an in-person visit to Bucharest later in the year to meet with political leaders and state authorities.

The initial element of the mission will take place over the week of 22-25 January and will hear insights from a wide range of stakeholders from across the media sector, including print, online, radio and television media outlets.

It will also meet with media owners, representatives from media regulatory bodies and intends to meet with the public broadcaster, as well as representatives from investigative reporting platforms and minority-language media.

The findings and conclusions from this first stage will be used to produce a report setting out the main challenges facing the media and journalists in Romania, and to prepare recommendations that can be discussed during the follow-up visit, which will be more focused on advocacy and meeting political power holders.

Key themes will include the safety of journalists, smear campaigns and vexatious lawsuits against media outlets and media professionals. Other systemic issues to be scrutinised include forms of media capture including, political pressure on media via advertising, pressures on editorial independence by media ownership interests, and the influence of the country’s powerful gambling industry on independent reporting.

The MFRR mission will be held at the start of the super electoral year in Romania, which is likely to see increasing pressures on free and independent journalism as news consumption increases amidst increased democratic debate and political messaging. The country will have four elections, including the presidential election.

The mission will be jointly organised by the International Press Institute (IPI) and the Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBC Transeuropa). It will be joined by ARTICLE 19 Europe, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) and Free Press Unlimited (FPU).

The mission is conducted as part of the MFRR’s advocacy work, which includes tracking, monitoring and reacting to violations of press and media freedom in EU member states and candidate countries, as well as conducting fact-finding missions to countries across the bloc and reporting findings to international institutions.

This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and candidate countries.