Report: More than half of Serbian journalists experienced self-censorship

The 2023 Report on the state of media freedom and the safety of journalists in Serbia was published on 15 March 2024, assessing the pressure experienced by media professionals in the country. Entitled “Behind the headlines: Threats, attacks and pressure on journalists in Serbia”, the research was conducted in collaboration with the Journalists Association of Serbia (UNS) and the Independent Journalists Association of Serbia (NUNS), with the support of the European Union and Council of Europe, based on a survey of 130 journalists and media workers. The report presents the major challenges to the safety of Serbian journalists by examining…

Bulgaria Minister urged to drop defamation lawsuit

The Media Freedom Rapid Response consortium partners criticise the criminal defamation lawsuit filed by Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov against investigative journalists Atanas Chobanov and Dimitar Stoyanov of the Bureau for Investigative Reporting and Data (BIRD). The undersigned organisations believe that the lawsuit is designed to silence legitimate investigative reporting and should be immediately withdrawn. The legal action stems from the journalists’ reporting on a property deal that allegedly connected the current Minister of Interior to Martin Bozhanov, an individual known as ‘the Notary’, who was murdered earlier this year following extensive allegations of corruption against him. Kalin Stoyanov has denied…

EFJ and union members kick off new project on capacity-building and social rights for journalists

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) launched its new project “Stand Up for Journalism (SUJ)” in Brussels, on 22 April 2024. The kick-off meeting was attended by representatives of journalists unions and associations from Denmark, France, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey, the project partners, and affiliated entities European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and Eurocadres.  The project is led by the EFJ and will be financially supporting six partners, journalists’ unions and associations in the EU and candidate countries: NUNS (Serbia), TUMM (Montenegro), DJ (Denmark), TGS (Turkey), SNJ-CGT (France), all of them being EFJ members. Stand Up for Journalism is an EU-funded project with…

Italy: EFJ supports Domani journalists facing up to 9 years in prison

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) reiterates its solidarity with Domani newspaper subjected to constant attacks as well as with its journalists Giovanni Tizian, Nello Trocchia, and Stefano Vergine. They are under investigation for complicity in a concerted action with a public official regarding unauthorised access to documents and for revealing secrets through the publication of information contained in those documents. They face up to 9 years in prison. We believe that the decision by the Perugia prosecutor’s office to prosecute the journalists is an attempt to identify their sources. The following call for support was signed by more than…

Czech Republic: Media start-up Okraj.cz develop its own code of conduct for AI

Most journalists use Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to improve their work and manage their workload. Okraj.cz, a group of three passionate, young journalists from Ostrava, Czech Republic, are no exception. Thanks to funding and mentorship from the Local Media for Democracy (LM4D) project, the media startup developed its own code of conduct for  AI to generate illustrations for their articles, but within reason. The three journalists come from different journalistic backgrounds. Jan Žabka worked in Prague looking into disinformation and digital chaos, Simona Janikova has experience in a range of topics, including local businesses, human stories and environment, and Klara…

Georgia: Press freedom erosion amid reintroduced ‘Foreign agent law’

25 April 2024 12:00 CET REGISTER HERE On April 25, 2024, the Media Freedom Rapid Response will host a webinar addressing the recent decline in press freedom in Georgia. This decline has been exacerbated by the reintroduction of a Russia-style foreign agent law earlier this month. The new law, titled ‘Transparency of Foreign Influence’ requires independent media and civil society organisations that receive funding from abroad to label themselves as “organisations pursuing the interests of a foreign power.” Since then, journalists from online media were barred from the parliament when the law was being debated and on April 16, 2024, reporters from online media…

Turkey: we demand the release of journalist Diren Keser

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) join their Turkish affiliate DİSK Basın-İş in demanding the immediate release of journalist Diren Keser, who has just been jailed for posting news on social networks in 2015. On 27 February, police officers arrested Diren Keser, a reporter for the Pir News Agency (PİRHA), at his home after the Court of Cassation upheld his prison sentence. Keser was transferred to Tarsus Prison. The journalist was charged in 2017 with ‘propaganda for an illegal organisation’ on account of having shared five news articles on social media back in…

Slovakia: EFJ President Maja Sever joined protest against SNS offensive on media, culture, environment and NGO sector

Over 1,500 protesters gathered on 16 April 2024 in front of the National Council of the Slovak Republic to express their disagreement with legislation proposed by the Slovak National Party (SNS). Invited by the Otvorená Kultúra! Platform, the President of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) Maja Sever took the floor to express solidarity and recall the legacy of the murdered investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and its significance for free journalism and democracy. Under the slogan “You Divide, We Unite!”, protesters called on the current government to withdraw the controversial legislative proposals aimed at political control of the media and…

Armenia: press freedom and freedom of expression under threat

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined its affiliate in Armenia, the Union of Journalists of Armenia (UJA), in denouncing the authorities’ misuse of anti-hooliganism legislation to suppress press freedom and freedom of expression. The EFJ and UJA demand the immediate release of Narek Samsonyan and Vazgen Saghatelyan, co-authors of the podcast “Imnemnimi”, imprisoned for criticising Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Vazgen Saghatelyan and Narek Samsonyan, the hosts of Imnemnimi, were given two-month pretrial detention on 22 March on charges of hooliganism. If found guilty, they could face up to five years in prison. Armenia’s Investigative Committee stated in a statement…

French journalists’ union calls for the opening of a parliamentary inquiry into Euronews takeover

A joint investigation by Hungarian, French and Portuguese media published last week revealed a direct link between entities close to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and company Alpac Capital, a Portuguese investment fund, which acquired Euronews TV channel in 2022. The takeover was approved by the French government as Euronews, previously headquartered in Lyon, was a company incorporated under French law. The International and European Federation of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) back the call of their French affiliate, the National Union of Journalists (SNJ), for the opening of a parliamentary inquiry aimed at shedding light on the origins of the funds used…

Portugal: Journalists developed a WhatsApp chatbot with local communities in Algarve

A group of journalists decided to improve their working conditions by developing their own online newspaper Sul Informação in the Algarve region. Through funding from the Local Media for Democracy (LM4D) project, Sul Informação developed an audience engagement tool called “Do You Have News for Us?” to create a direct communication channel between the public and the newsroom.  Readers send information that will be verified and, eventually, transformed into news by the journalists. This allows the newspaper a new way to get information about what is happening in the municipalities in the Algarve and Baixo Alentejo. The tool works via…

Italy: Public service RAI becomes a “megaphone” of the government

Public service broadcaster RAI has decided to grant ministers and undersecretaries unrestricted airtime on its programs when referring to institutional matters. On 11 April, journalists and news hosts on the main channels of RAI read live during prime news editions the Rai Union of Journalists (USIGRai) statement announcing RAI’s decision and condemning it, comparing RAI to the government’s “megaphone”. The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) together with their affiliate the Federazione Nazionale Stampa Italiana (FNSI) condemn this further attempt to politicise public information services for propaganda purposes and demand that RAI respects fundamental journalistic principles. “The government majority…

Ukraine: Four journalists injured in drone strikes in Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia

On 4 and 5 April, Russian drone strikes hit respectively the Ukrainian regions of Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia injuring at least four journalists, with some ending at the hospital in serious and worrying health conditions. The International and European Federation of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) together with their affiliates the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) and the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU) call for Russian authorities to put an end to these attacks, that endanger the safety not only of civilians but also of journalists engaged in the performance of their duties. On 4 April, Russian drone strikes hit…

Cyprus: IFJ and EFJ back journalists’ union demands for decent salaries and better working conditions

The Union of Cyprus Journalists (UCJ) has launched the campaign ‘Journalists have a voice’ to raise awareness of the difficulties journalists face in the country. Low salaries, precarious working conditions and a collective agreement for press workers that has not been renewed over a decade could have a devastating impact on the quality of information, media pluralism and democracy, warns the UCJ. The International and the European Federation of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) fully back the demands of their affiliate UCJ, and urge employers to start negotiations to improve journalists’ working conditions and end precarity in the media sector. Journalism is in…

Georgia: MFRR partners strongly condemn new attempts to introduce a law on “Transparency of Foreign Influence”

The undersigned media freedom organisations strongly condemn Georgia’s ruling party’s renewed effort to pass a Russian-style “foreign agent” law that would threaten media freedom and civic space in the country, which received EU candidate status last year. We call on the Georgian Dream (GD) party to immediately withdraw this restrictive piece of legislation. On Wednesday, 3 April, the ruling GD party announced it would reintroduce a “foreign agent” bill, which was passed in a first hearing in 2023 but subsequently withdrawn following widespread protests and international criticism. On 8 April, the Georgian Parliament’s Bureau formally registered the bill under the…

Safety and justice: demanding accountability for attacks against journalists in Serbia

Commemorating 25 years since the brutal murder of Serbian journalist Slavko Ćuruvija, the European Federation of Journalists joins the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners and the SafeJournalists Networkto condemn the continued impunity surrounding his assassination and demand accountability for all acts of violence committed against journalists in Serbia. The recent acquittal of security officers accused of Ćuruvija’s murder, as well as the escalating attacks against journalists in Novi Sad, underscore the urgent need for authorities to act and protect press freedom in Serbia. Ćuruvija, an esteemed editor and publisher, was fatally shot in front of his home in Belgrade on 11 April 1999.…