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.

Actions

Slovenia: Journalists at public broadcaster RTV voted for strike action

On Monday 23 May, Radiotelevizija Slovenija (RTV)’s unions’ committee will hold a strike to protest against the serious threat to the existence of public service broadcasting and its employees. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) supports the decision taken on 12 May with a majority of 96% of the voters among the Committee of Journalists’ Unions of RTV.  While on several occasions, EFJ denounced a violation of trade union rights, serious concerns over press freedom deterioration in Slovenia were also expressed in the  last Media Freedom Rapid Response report. In a press release the RTV strike unions’ committee, denounced the…

Media Freedom Rapid Response III (MFRR) will continue for 18 months

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is pleased to announce that the consortium running the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) – consisting of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), ARTICLE 19 Europe, Free Press Unlimited (FPU), International Press Institute (IPI), Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBC Transeuropa), and the EFJ – has been granted €1.95 million in funding for 18 months from the European Commission to continue its work to defend and support press and media freedom throughout all EU member states, candidate countries, and Ukraine. In 2020 and 2021, the consortium – which also included the Institute…

Turkey 2021 Media Monitoring Report: 80% of journalists think their work is increasingly worthless

The Turkish Association of Journalists (GCD) recently published its Annual Media Monitoring Report documenting the state of press freedom in Turkey for the year 2021. The report, funded by the Media 4 Democracy project, addresses a number of topics such as journalists’ safety and censorship, disinformation, the new internet regulation, the situation of imprisoned journalists and journalists’ current professional satisfaction. According to the Media Monitoring Report, “in 2021, no steps were taken for the betterment of the conditions troubling freedom of expression and the press in Turkey.” In particular, the decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, to not implement the European…

Montenegro: SMCG launched new video series on collective bargaining

The Trade Union of Media of Montenegro (SMCG) just launched a new video series called “Dvije sindikalne” (“Couple of words on unions” in English) discussing the working conditions in Montenegrin media and the work of the unions. The project is part of the national actions carried in the framework of the COVID Recovery Fund project, which is funding capacity-building activities developed by European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) affiliates. Each of the ten episodes will offer insights into the trade union world. Using a combination of traditional and new journalistic formats, SMCG approaches the theme of working conditions from a new…

Czech Republic: Independence of public broadcasters must be insulated against future attacks

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined its partner organisations of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) today in demanding a boost in press freedom to drive legislative reform for public service media in Czech Republic. Press freedom in the Czech Republic has undergone a welcome boost since the government of Prime Minister Petr Fiala came to power. The undersigned media freedom and journalists organisations today urge the new administration to use this momentum to push forward with amendments which will strengthen the institutional independence of Česká televize (Czech Television) and Český rozhlas (Czech Radio). Under the previous government, Czech Television came under…

French TV news presenter faces allegations of rape

Twenty women have accused French journalist Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, also known as PPDA, of sexual harassment and abuse, including rape. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) calls on media companies to take the necessary preventive measures, especially with regard to freelancers, who are more exposed to the risk of sexual abuse. On Tuesday, the investigative website Mediapart interviewed 18 women openly accusing one of France’s best-known television news presenters, PPDA, 74, of sexual harassment and abuse – including rape. A further two alleged victims were named and filmed talking of their encounters with the television star separately. The majority of…