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

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.…

Three years later: still no justice for murdered Greek journalist

Three years have elapsed since the assassination of Giorgos Karaivaz, a veteran Greek crime reporter. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today joins the undersigned members of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) to commemorate his death and renew demands on the Greek authorities to redouble their efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice. Giorgos Karaivaz was one of Greece’s most prominent investigative journalists specialising in organised crime and police reporting when he was gunned down in broad daylight outside his Athens home on 9 April 2021. The execution was conducted by professional hitmen who escaped on a motorbike and…

Independence of Slovakia’s leading TV news channel must be protected

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined the partner organisations of the Rapid Response for Media Freedom (MFRR) in expressing its deep concern at the actions of the Slovak government towards Slovakia’s leading commercial broadcaster, TV Markíza, aimed at silencing its critical journalism. We call on Markíza’s owners, the Central European Media Enterprises (CME), to resist the pressure and guarantee the editorial independence of the newsroom. TV Markiza has been under pressure from the moment the new government was formed in September 2023. Prime Minister Róbert Fico accused it last November of being part of the “enemy media” and quickly…

Georgia: EFJ denounces government’s attempt to reintroduce law on foreign agents

The ruling Georgian Dream party reintroduced into the Parliament on 2 April a proposed “foreign agents” law. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joins its Georgian affiliate, the Independent Association of Georgian Journalists (IAGJ) in condemning any attempt by the Georgian government to reintroduce the draft legislation on foreign agents or foreign influence. This bill is incompatible with international human rights law and standards that protect the rights to freedom of expression and association. The bill “on transparency of foreign influence” would require non-profit organisations and media outlets receiving more than 20% of their funding from abroad to be registered…