European Federation of Journalists

WPFD24: Journalism in the face of the Environmental Crisis

To mark World Press Freedom Day – the theme of which this year is “Journalism in the face of the environmental crisis” – the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) pays tribute to the local journalists who play a unique role in providing critical information to the public on environmental issues, and connecting local stories to the broader climate crisis. 

“On World Press Freedom Day, we emphasise that an atmosphere of security and respect must be built to allow media professionals to report accurately on the climate crisis. We need to ensure that journalists reporting on environmental and climate stories can work safely and freely,” said Ricardo Gutiérrez, EFJ General Secretary. “Guarantying their safety and making sure that their legal rights are respected is crucial for them to fulfil their role of helping us understand the issues we are facing.”

The EFJ, committed to a better treatment of the climate crisis, is a co-signatory of the Charter for upgraded journalistic practices to better report on the ecological and environmental emergency published in 2022. “Journalists must step up their practices, but this will only be possible if they can do their job without fear of detention, fine or threats to their safety,” added Gutiérrez.

The recent report by the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF)Uncovering news deserts in Europe. Risks and opportunities for local and community media in the EU” emphasises the reliance of the local communities on local journalists to provide information on environmental hazards or public emergencies and notes that unsatisfactory working conditions for journalists and online attacks against them are on the rise. Since the beginning of 2024, the Media Freedom Rapid Response recorded 13 media freedom violations related to environmental reporting against 19 journalists and media outlets in 13 European countries. The threats range from physical assaults to verbal attacks, legal incidents and blocked access to information.

The CMPF research, conducted under the Local Media for Democracy (LM4D) project, detects challenges and opportunities for local and community media in the 27 EU Member States, analysing the news deserts phenomenon from a holistic perspective. They assessed risks based on 55 variables that relate to the local media, including local journalists’ safety and working conditions.

The LM4D project will close with a final conference in Brno, Czech Republic, on 17 – 18 June 2024 at Marsnyk University.

The Local Media for Democracy project is an 18-month project co-funded by the European Commission and launched by a consortium of partners: the Journalismfund Europe, the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF), International Media Support (IMS), and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ).