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Media Freedom

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Johanna Martinsson's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Freedom House

Nations in Transit 2012

"Nations in Transit is Freedom House’s comprehensive, comparative study of democratic development in 29 countries from Central Europe to Eurasia.

Findings in Nations in Transit 2012 suggest that the countries that have achieved the greatest democratic success since the Cold War’s end are now displaying serious vulnerabilities in their young democratic systems. Over the past five years, stagnation and backsliding is evident in key governance indicators across the new EU member states and countries of the Balkans. Hungary, a powerful example of this trend, continued on a negative trajectory that was propelled by the current government’s drive to concentrate power. Ukraine’s scores similarly continued to worsen, with declines in five of the seven Nations in Transit categories, as authorities undertook a broad assault on institutional accountability and transparency. Difficult economic conditions and harsh austerity measures posed challenges to democratic development in the region. In the Balkans, critical reforms stalled in nearly all countries in 2011." READ MORE

The Fragile State of Media Freedom in Latin America

"The current state of media freedom in Latin America was driven home in early May, when three journalists were murdered in Mexico within a week of World Press Freedom Day. This dramatic example underscores a larger trend identified by Freedom House in the recently released Freedom of the Press 2012 report, which noted that a range of negative developments over the past decade have left media freedom on the defensive in much of Central and South America." READ MORE

Is Media Freedom at the Heart of Media Development?

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

What’s media assistance about anyway? Actually, there’s not really a straightforward answer to this question. I realized that when I listened to Daniel Kaufmann of the Brookings Institute earlier this week at an event hosted by the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) and Internews. Kaufmann’s answer was that media assistance is about media freedom. A free media is a necessary, although not a sufficient condition for successful media development.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Freedom House
Report Finds Governments Restricting Media Freedom Through Regulation

A range of governments are increasingly restricting media freedom using licensing and regulatory frameworks and receive little criticism or attention for doing so, according to Freedom House’s newest report, License to Censor: The Use of Media Regulation to Restrict Press Freedom.

The report provides an overview analyzing this trend at a global level and in-depth analyses of the regulatory environments in eight countries:  Ecuador, Georgia, Indonesia, Lebanon, Pakistan, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. It describes some of the most commonly used methods to regulate the media—legal controls on licensing and registration, regulatory bodies that are not independent or operate in an nontransparent or politicized manner, and the imposition of vague content requirements on media outlets—as well as detailing the use of arbitrary or extralegal actions, including license denials and the suspension or closure of media outlets to restrict media freedom.  READ MORE

Media Regulation: Who Needs Your Protection?

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Freedom of expression and media freedom - most contentious issues not only in autocracies but, seemingly increasingly, also in democracies. It's a fine line between regulating the media and strangling it. Who should be protected by media regulation? The media? The public? Freedom of expression? The government? National security?

Let's start with the media. Does the media need protection? Surely - at least to some extend media systems need to be shielded from being overwhelmed by economic and political interests. If we assume that a free and balanced media is fundamental to a healthy balance between the state and its citizens there need to be safeguards that allow journalists to report without fear of repercussions.

Do We Trust the Media Enough?

Antonio Lambino's picture

Among the various roles news media play in governance, that of gatekeeper is one of the more problematic.  According to Pippa Norris and Sina Odugbemi in Public Sentinel, “as gatekeepers, the news media have a responsibility to reflect and incorporate the plurality of viewpoints and political persuasions in reporting, to maximize the diversity of perspectives and arguments heard in rational public deliberations, and to enrich the public sphere.”

Put simply, a gatekeeper lets some in and keeps others out.  Journalists, editors, and media organizations are supposed to exercise this function to advance diversity in the public sphere.  There are at least two ways in which this can be organized.  First, each and every news outlet can be tasked to reflect diversity.   Second, diversity can be reflected in the country’s overall media system.

African Union Consultation Can Lead to a More Strategic Approach to Media Development

Bettina Peters's picture

An informal expert meeting on media and development hosted by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the European Commission (EC) in Addis Ababa, March 23-25 agreed a range of practical proposals in support of African media.  Participants representing journalists, media owners, media development practitioners, journalism schools and self-regulatory structures in Africa highlighted the important role the AUC can play in promoting media freedom and independent journalism in Africa. 

The consultation attended by some 35 participants was the first time the African Union discussed media development with practitioners and marks an important step towards creating a strategic approach of the African Union Commission to media development.

Watch the Watchdogs

Antonio Lambino's picture

Onora O’Neill (2002) contends that advocates of media freedom have erroneously equated the citizen’s right to information and expression with press freedom.  They have claimed for journalists and media organizations what is essentially an individual right reserved for citizens.  A free media, according to O’Neill, “is not an unconditional good… Good public debate must not only be accessible to but also assessable by its audiences.”

Accessibility is often measured through indicators that quantify access to various media, such as newspaper circulation or the number of TVs, radios, and computers per thousand people in the population (e.g., UNESCO, World Bank).  Assessability, on the other hand, is driven by normative standards and can be carried out on at least two levels.