European Federation of Journalists

Report about fact-finding mission to Estonia and Lithuania

A new report about the fact-finding mission conducted by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) which investigated the media situation in Estonia and Lithuania from 22 to 24 January can be found here. An Estonian translation of the report is also available.

Members of the mission interviewed almost 30 experts: representatives of the government, academia, press councils, public service media, journalists‘ organisations, investigative journalists, editors-in-chief and CEOs of major media companies.

The two Baltic states were chosen in the wake of a wave of disinformation spread by Russian specialists during the US election campaign. The question, whether the comparatively small societies of Estonia and Lithuania could be polarised and destabilised by so-called fake news, was on the table. This seemed to be even more likely as all of them have Russian-speaking minorities in their countries, the largest in Estonia with about 30 per cent of the population.

Findings of the report show that on media freedom and pluralism, Estonia and Lithuania are doing comparatively well. But media concentration is high. In Lithuania, public service media is under great political pressure.

According to the mission’s findings, the biggest problem is neither fake news nor Russian propaganda, but the economic pressure on media that opens the door to “paid articles”.

The mission participants included EFJ director Renate Schroeder, EFJ vice president Nadezda Azhgikhina and ECPMF managing director Lutz Kinkel. This project was supported by the European Commission.