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Whistleblowers for Change : the Social and Economic Costs and Benefits of Leaking and Whistleblowing

November 20, 2018

In this report, whistleblowers from eight European countries describe what they experienced after they took a stand. Additionally, civil society experts weigh in on how the EU can craft policies to better protect whistleblowers. The question of how to define whistleblowing—does it apply to sexual harassment, can NGOs be considered whistleblowers, and so on—is also explored.The report ultimately recommends an EU-wide directive on whistleblowing, which it argues would give whistleblowers the protection they need to step forward. The report also argues that a multi-level, multi-stakeholder approach would emphasize the value of whistleblowers and the crucial role they play in a healthy open society.

eDemocracy and eParticipation: The Precious First Steps and the Way Forward

November 28, 2017

The amazing increase in the quantity and speed of information, provided by digital means that were unthinkable just 10 years ago, brings us ever-closer to a digital world. This makes the world perceivably smaller, yet more complex at the same time. Goods and services are delivered in shorter periods, while citizens' expectations towards public services and information, as well as political participation, changes. Whilst traditionally, the interactions of governing bodies with citizens were usually limited to the general acquisition of services, petitions, or referenda, citizens now question top down approaches of governance and demand more inclusion in the processes of modern democracies. New tools open the door for unprecedented interaction with and unprecedented scrutiny of institutions and governments. Citizens can make their voices heard and offer their expertise. They can bridge the often-perceived gap between administration and citizens. Therefore, eDemocracy and eParticipation are not isolated phenomena, but evolutionary steps in, and for, open societies. However, one should be cautious about the risks involved with every new technology and not dismiss those over the potential gains. Cyberattacks like WannaCry in May 2017 show justhow vulnerable software systems can be. Therefore, digital institutions need to be prepared against global cyberattacks. Influxes of false or biased information, both for and by domestic and foreign actors, are shaping opinions and polarising societies. This publication on the digitalisation of politics is intended to provide an overview of how the countries and citizens of the European Union try to reinvent their democracy, and how far along they are in adjusting their institutions and organisations to the needs of the digital era. It compares the realities in countries of Northern, Central and Southeastern Europe, analysed to provide the reader with information about their ICT potential and challenges. We are convinced that the European network of citizens through common learnings and exchange, will connect the best of both the EU and the digital realms. For a more democratic, free, and prosperous Europe.

'I Saw the News on Facebook': Brand Attribution when Accessing News from Distributed Environments

January 1, 2017

The growth of social media and other aggregators over the last few years has changed the nature of online consumption.Our question is: Do people remember the news brand when they visit a story via social media or search engines? In order to answer this question we used a YouGov panel to automatically track website usage by a representative sample of UK internet users and then served a survey to see if they could remember the brand.We find that less than half could remember the name of the news brand for a particular story when coming from search engines or social media. Users were more likely to remember the brand via social media and search engines when they read a story from their main source of news. Young people were also more likely to correctly attribute a news brand when coming from social media compared with older respondents.

Media Policy and Independent Journalism in Greece

May 1, 2015

Today, Greece is the European Union member state where journalism and the media face their most acute crisis. This study identifies the urgent problems facing media policy in Greece and how they affect independent journalism.Since the 1980s and '90s, deregulation has increased the viewing choices for audiences in Greece. At the same time, the legal and regulatory framework has helped concentrate ownership of press, television, and radio outlets. Private channels operate with temporary licenses and independent regulatory authorities function superficially and ambivalently. As a result, the market has been dominated by a handful of powerful newspaper interests, which have expanded into audiovisual and online media. Recent laws have further liberalized media ownership and cross-ownership.Media Policy and Independent Journalism in Greece, based partly on in-depth interviews with key actors, explores these issues and more in this six-chapter report.

Freedom of the Press, Expression, and Information in Spain

January 12, 2015

According to surveys, the most distrusted professions in Spain are politics, the judiciary, and journalism. Leaving judges aside, the reasons for this distrust are linked: to remain solvent, most traditional media rely heavily on "poderes fácticos"—economic and financial groups that control or influence politicians and the media.Austerity has only sharpened this reliance. At the same time, governing parties in parliament control appointments to public service broadcasters. These broadcasters live under the constant threat of cuts to their budgets. Media ownership is opaque, and so is the scale and pattern of public money spent on media advertising.The impact of all these factors has been debilitating for the Spanish media. A report by the Madrid Press Association found that 77 percent of journalists rated their independence as poor or very poor, and 56 percent had been pressured to modify stories.The Program on Independent Journalism has commissioned two experts to examine this crisis. In a major report titled Freedom of the Press, Expression, and Information in Spain (La Libertad de Prensa, Expresión e Información en España), Javier Sierra examines the history of media freedom and freedom of information in Spain. He identifies the major obstacles to independent journalism and emphasizes the urgent need for legal reform in line with international standards.

Press Freedom by the Numbers

May 1, 2014

Use our interactive data tool to compare the press freedoms of regions and countries over time.

Mapping Digital Media: Finland

January 1, 2014

The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by the transition from traditional to digital media. Covering 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide: news about political, economic, and social affairs.Traditional media, news platforms, and public service media have maintained their historically strong position in the digital era in Finland. Traditional media also dominate the news offering on digital platforms and social media.Digitization has, however, increased the number of television channels and competition for audiences, and online news media use has grown rapidly. While ways of accessing news content have changed, traditional news usage is still common and a large proportion of the population watches scheduled television news at least once a week. Newspaper circulation figures are also still high, despite the trend of decline.

One Step Forward, One Step Back: An Assessment of Freedom of Expression in Ukraine during its OSCE Chairmanship

December 2, 2013

2013 is the first year Ukraine has held the Chairmanship in Office (CIO) of the OSCE since it became a participating state in the organization in 1992. The Chairman in Office, Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs Leonid Kozhara, outlined the country's priorities for its CIO in November 2012, among which were the freedom of speech, resolving the frozen conflicts, and combating human trafficking, and acknowledged that Ukraine's own record would be under the microscope during its CIO.Little progress has been made on many of those questions as acknowledged by Foreign Minister Kozhara in a recent editorial and in a bi-annual report issued by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the Ukrainian OSCE chairmanship. According to their assessments, special attention has been paid to resolving the frozen conflicts, but few results in strengthening the freedom of speech have been realized except for the "arrangement of necessary conditions for renewal of mandate of Representative on Freedom of the Media."Ukraine's progress in meeting its obligations to respect the freedom of expression, including to facilitate the dissemination of information and working conditions for journalists, has been mostly unsatisfactory in recent years lagging behind progress made in Moldova, Georgia, and Armenia while doing better than Azerbaijan and Belarus. In spite of the generally high quality of legislation, the reality of implementation is less impressive. Citizens may freely express their views, and collect and disseminate information, but access to free and pluralistic media and to public information held by the authorities is inadequate. Journalists' working conditions are not secure enough to work safely and remedies for violations of journalists' rights or attacks on journalists are ineffective.The media, and especially television, is rife with hidden paid content, making it difficult for viewers to discern what news is real and what is not. Television stations are constantly juggling political and economic pressure. Adherence to journalistic standards is unsatisfactory as ethics boards are ineffective.2013 has thus far included some meaningful efforts to improve Ukrainian media legislation following a 2-year delay in reform; the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's Parliament) enacted a law on ownership transparency of media and passed the laws on public service broadcasting and privatization of government-owned press in the first reading. Neither law has proceeded to the second reading though, raising concerns about their ultimate fate.Access to the media for the ruling party and its allies is significantly easier, including during the electoral period, due to legislative privileges for officials and governmental bodies and their influence on government-owned media outlets. Nationwide TV channels often do not cover the opposition because of special relations between their oligarch owners and the ruling political forces. A lack of quality analytical reports on television, the Internet, and in the print press, as well as the proliferation of tabloid-style content, also limit access to good quality information and access to the media by the opposition.Much of the local media is financially dependent on the government and thus on the ruling political forces. Ownership of TV channels is not transparent and the new law on media ownership leaves loopholes, allowing opaque ownership structures to persist across the sector. The National Council on TV and Radio Broadcasting is not an independent regulatory body. Moreover, nationwide TV channels show loyalty to the government as important political events and themes, especially those relating to the political opposition, are covered inadequately or not at all.There have been improvements in the protection of journalists' sources. Since implementation of the new Code on Criminal Proceedings, there have been no reports of police pressuring journalists to disclose their sources. Despite this progress, journalists who work for Internet media are still vulnerable.There has been little recent progress in meeting the obligation to guarantee transparency in public affairs. Progress in the sector of access to public information, made in 2011, has stalled. The preliminary passage in 2012 of a draft law that would bring Ukrainian laws in line with model laws on access to information is a step in the right direction, but the second reading has been inexplicably put off several times and the date of its adoption is unclear.

Freedom on the Net 2013

October 3, 2013

Freedom on the Net 2013 is the fourth report in a series of comprehensive studies of internet freedom around the globe and covers developments in 60 countries that occurred between May 2012 and April 2013. Over 60 researchers, nearly all based in the countries they analyzed, contributed to the project by researching laws and practices relevant to the digital media, testing the accessibility of select websites, and interviewing a wide range of sources, among other research activities. This edition's findings indicate that internet freedom worldwide is in decline, with 34 out of 60 countries assessed in the report experiencing a negative trajectory during the coverage period. Broad surveillance, new laws controlling web content, and growing arrests of social-media users drove this overall decline in internet freedom in the past year. Nonetheless, Freedom on the Net 2013 also found that activists are becoming more effective at raising awareness of emerging threats and, in several cases, have helped forestall new repressive measures.

Media Access and Policy

Mapping Digital Media: Czech Republic

September 1, 2013

In the Czech Republic, digital switch-over of television was completed in 2012, bringing expanded choice and services to the majority of households that rely on the terrestrial platform. It followed a transition period in which political stagnation and conflict among regulatory authorities impeded the development of a clear legislative framework and delayed digitization by almost a decade.Since the completion of the digital switch-over, media policy has fallen further down the list of political priorities. While this has enhanced the autonomy of regulators to some extent, it has also left a policy vacuum in key areas that warrant intervention.Overall, neither the digital switch-over nor the development of online platforms has diversified the overall news offer in a substantive and meaningful way. Competition in digital terrestrial television—still the dominant news platform—has stagnated, while both print media and new citizen journalist initiatives are facing a crisis of funding that has transcended the economic downturn. As a result, there has been a marked, if varying, trend toward tabloidization and a pressing need to sustain outposts of serious and quality news in all sectors.

Mapping Digital Media: Slovakia

July 1, 2013

The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by the transition from traditional to digital media. Covering 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide: news about political, economic, and social affairs.There have been waves of change in the provision of news and information services in Slovakia in recent years. Digitization has been variously implicated as a cause, catalyst, or coincidence of such change. Some of the developments have been to the benefit of both consumers and citizens while others have come at a substantial cost to them. In this context, the most definable and singular event was the digital switch-over of television, completed in 2012.However, there remains an urgent need for reform in a number of areas. A renewed policy focus is warranted in order to meet the continuing and evolving challenges that digital media pose to the provision of accessible, sustainable, independent, diverse, and good-quality news.Media effectiveness and quality depend directly on the legislative environment, which is why this report calls on government and parliament to uphold the public interest and the rules of fair economic competition over the political and economic interests of particular stakeholders. Regulatory bodies should respect the same principle, and prioritize professional over political criteria in personnel appointments.

Mapping Digital Media: Estonia

April 1, 2013

The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by the transition from traditional to digital media. Covering 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide: news about political, economic, and social affairs.Estonia blazed a trail, in terms of digitization, by completing digital switch-over of television in 2010, five years ahead of the originally envisaged target of 2015.Estonians have demonstrated a keen appetite for digital media uptake. More than three-quarters of the population accesses the internet regularly, and more than half of those are active on social networking platforms. Recent surveys suggest that nearly a quarter of internet users now connect via smartphones. As for traditional media, newspaper circulations have experienced a steady rather than dramatic decline over recent years, while television and radio audiences remain relatively stable.The press and news organizations remain in general relatively free of political influence, and although there is significant cross-media ownership and little opportunity for new entrants, digitization does not appear to have exacerbated this situation, and there remains a degree of competition and pluralism within all sectors.This report calls for the development of media policy that will incentivize television service providers to introduce the additional digital television services that were promoted during switch-over. They also call for long-term predictable funding mechanisms to ensure that public service media, Estonian Public Broadcasting (Eesti Rahvusringhääling, ERR) above all, provide quality output.

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