European Federation of Journalists

openMedia, investigating press freedom

Title of the project : openMedia, investigating press freedom
Lead Applicant
: openDemocracy

Partner organisations : EFJ, Index on censorship, King’s College London

The recently launched openMedia project aims to investigate and expose commercial interference in editorial decisions. The project is run by openDemocracy with the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) as a partner alongside the Index on Censorship and King’s College London.

The project believes that there has not been enough of a concerted, ongoing spotlight on the extent and effects of commercial influence over the media, despite the dangerous consequences it poses for press freedom. For now, the project focuses on 47 countries across Europe but also has ambitions to expand.

Despite the recent launch, the project is adamant that it is not a response to the “fake news” hype of the past year or so. Rather, the project responds to scandals of commercial sponsors influencing media content; for example the Daily Telegraph’s suppression of investigations into its advertiser HSBC; and allegations that Buzzfeed deleted articles which advertisers found unfavourable.

According to the project, this power dynamic can suppress investigations of banks, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, fossil fuel giants, energy companies and other big businesses.

In addition, the project recognizes how for many readers, “sponsored content” is difficult to distinguish from genuine news content. The project therefore aims to clarify the commercial interests apparent in media to readers, and as part of the project, King’s College London will develop digital tools to help readers be better informed about news sources.

The findings of the project will be used to campaign for greater transparency and press freedom in news organisations and to empower journalists to advocate for transparency.

In order to do this, openMedia is currently conducting a confidential and anonymous survey of journalists across Europe, asking about their own working practices and experiences of commercial pressure inside newsrooms. The survey is available in English here and in many other languages here.


Ukraine: Former journalist Iryna Levchenko illegally arrested in occupied Zaporizhzhia

Iryna Levchenko, a former local journalist and member of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) has been illegally arrested in the occupied part of Zaporizhzhia, southeast of the country. The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) join their affiliate, the NUJU, in condemning the illegal arrest of Levchenko and urge the authorities of the occupied territories to immediately and unconditionally release her and all other journalists held behind bars. On 31 May, the NUJU reported the disappearance of former Ukrainian journalist and union member, Iryna Levchenko, and her husband, Oleksandr Levchenko, in the southeastern city of Melitopol, in the…

Greek union organised a two-day Safety Training for journalists

Thirteen journalists took part in a safety training organised by the Journalists Union of Macedonia and Thrace (ESIEMTH) between 28 and 29 April 2023 in the Conference Hall of the Union of Editors of Macedonia-Thrace, in Thessaloniki, Greece. The workshop is part of a series of training sessions organised by journalists’ trade unions with the support of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR). Organised by the International Training Center for the Safety of Journalists, the two-day workshop gathered Greek reporters, editors and correspondents. It was designed to help journalists, media workers and media organisations improve their skills in assessing risks…

Kosovo: More attacks on journalists amid escalating tensions

A growing number of attacks on journalists and media workers have been documented in northern Kosovo since 26 May, which intensified on 29 May, following the protests that erupted in the region. The International and the European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) join their affiliate, the Association of Journalists in Kosovo (AGK), in denouncing the violence targeted at media professionals and call on the competent authorities and media employers to ensure the safety of journalists reporting on the ground. Several journalists have been physically assaulted and their equipment vandalised, including the vehicles of media broadcasters, while covering the ongoing protests in…

Serbia: Legal harassment of investigative media outlet KRIK must stop

The legal harassment against Serbian investigative media outlet KRIK continues as the portal was convicted for reporting on a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) case it was facing, at the same time as a new abusive lawsuit has been filed against it. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined the undersigned organisations in standing in solidarity with KRIK’s newsroom, which is currently fighting 12 legal proceedings, and raising the alarm about the use of SLAPPs in Serbia, considered a growing threat to independent journalism. In recent months, KRIK has been facing multiple lawsuits as a result of public interest…

EFJ joins RTV Slovenia journalists’ fight for independence after one year strike

23 May 2023 marked one year since the beginning of the strike at the Slovenian public broadcaster Radiotelevizija Slovenija (RTV Slovenia). The Journalists’ Union of Slovenia and the Coordination of Journalists’ Unions in RTV yesterday organised a public debate in support of the strike, to remind that the demand for a public broadcaster free from any interference is still valid. “What kind of RTV do we want?” was the theme of the public debate which invited RTV journalists and experts to reflect on the past year and the future. Solidarity messages were also sent from across borders, where journalists’ organisations, members…

Switzerland: Turkish journalist Pehiran Kaya’s asylum request must be granted

Kurdish journalist Pehiran Kaya, who found refuge in Switzerland, is facing deportation to Croatia as her asylum request has been rejected twice. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joins its Swiss affiliate impressum and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in asking the Federal Supreme Court (BVGer) to refrain from deporting the journalist, who faces imprisonment in Turkey. Pehiran Kaya risks deportation to Croatia, the first country through which she travelled when fleeing Turkey. Going back to Croatia would be extremely dangerous for the politically prosecuted journalist, who had been detained for two days there, where she was subjected to inhumane treatments similar to torture by Croatian…