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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.

Major Internet Companies as News Editors

August 15, 2018

As part of its ongoing Trust, Media and Democracy initiative, the John S. and James L.Knight Foundation partnered with Gallup to ask a representative sample of U.S. adults for their views on the news editorial functions played by major internet companies. 

Distinguishing Between Factual and Opinion Statements in the News

June 18, 2018

In today's fast-paced and complex information environment, news consumers must make rapid-fire judgments about how to internalize news-related statements – statements that often come in snippets and through pathways that provide little context. A new Pew Research Center survey of 5,035 U.S. adults examines a basic step in that process: whether members of the public can recognize news as factual – something that's capable of being proved or disproved by objective evidence – or as an opinion that reflects the beliefs and values of whoever expressed it.

American Views: Trust, Media and Democracy

January 16, 2018

Technological advances have made it easier for Americans to connect with each other and to find information, including details about the major issues facing the country. But those advances present both challenges and opportunities for individuals and U.S. institutions. Not only is more information readily available, but so is more misinformation, and many consumers may not be able to easily discern the difference between the two.Amid the changing informational landscape, media trust in the U.S. has been eroding, making it harder for the news media to fulfill their democratic responsibilities of informing the public and holding government leaders accountable. Results of the 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey on Trust, Media and Democracy show that most Americans believe it is now harder to be well-informed and to determine which news is accurate. They increasingly perceive the media as biased and struggle to identify objective news sources. They believe the media continue to have a critical role in our democracy but are not very positive about how the media are fulfilling that role.The research reported here is based on a nationally representative mail survey of more than 19,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and older. This project received support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Open Society Foundations.

Journalism, News, and Information

Mapping Digital Media: News and New Media in Central Africa - Challenges and Opportunities

December 1, 2012

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa. Rwanda and Burundi are among the continent's smallest states. More than just neighbors, these three countries are locked together by overlapping histories and by extreme political and economic challenges. They all score very low on the United Nations' human development index, with DRC and Burundi among the half-dozen poorest and most corrupt countries in the world. They are all recovering uncertainly from conflicts that involved violence on an immense scale, devastating communities and destroying infrastructure. Their populations are overwhelmingly rural and young. In terms of media, radio is by far the most popular source of news. Levels of state capture are high, and media quality is generally poor. Professional journalists face daunting obstacles. The threadbare markets can hardly sustain independent outlets. Amid continuing communal and political tensions, the legacy of "hate media" is insidious, and upholding journalism ethics is not easy when salaries are low. Ownership is non-transparent. Telecoms overheads are exorbitantly high. In these conditions, new and digital media -- which flourish on consumers' disposable income, strategic investment, and vibrant markets -- have made a very slow start. Crucially, connectivity remains low. But change is afoot, led by the growth of mobile internet access. In this report, Marie-Soleil Frère surveys the news landscapes of DRC, Burundi, and Rwanda. Marshaling an impressive range of data, she examines patterns of production and consumption, the often grim realities of law and regulation, the embryonic state of media policy, the role of donors, and the positive impact of online platforms. Most media outlets now have an online presence. SMS has become a basic tool for reporters. Interactivity gives voice to increasing numbers of listeners. The ease of digital archiving makes it possible to create a collective media "memory" for the first time. Chinese businesses are winning tenders for infrastructure projects. Above all, the unstoppable flow of digitized information enables ever more people to learn about current events and available services. "The average news consumer in Central Africa will soon leap to new opportunities," Frère predicts, "without having to pass through the intermediate stages of a personal computer and a fixed telephone line." The report ends with a set of practical recommendations relating to infrastructure, strategies to reduce access costs for journalists and the public, education and professionalization, donor activity, governance, regulation, and media management.

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Access and Policy

Mapping Digital Media in the European Union

October 23, 2012

Mapping Digital Media (MDM) is a 60-country study by the Open Society Foundations. It surveys the impact of digitisation and digital media on media pluralism, diversity, accessibility and independence, focusing on the core democratic service that any media system should provide: the provision of open, contestable, and diverse information about political, economic and social affairs. The project findings should inform European policy over standards, funding mechanisms, and legislation concerning media plurality and a host of related issues.

Transparency of Media Ownership in Europe

October 22, 2012

This report set out the main findings of a research project which indicates that there is currently insufficient transparency of media ownership in most European countries. A series of recommendations show how to increase public access to information about media ownership as an essential prerequisite for promoting and protecting media pluralism.

Media Access and Policy

Neither Here Nor There: Turkmenistan's Digital Doldrums

October 1, 2012

Turkmenistan is slowly emerging from decades of darkness. President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov has vowed to modernize the country by encouraging the uptake of new technology for economic development and more efficient governance. Hundreds of thousands of Turkmen citizens are now online. However, the country faces serious challenges as it prepares to go digital. Infrastructure is primitive, and public access is fully controlled by a stateowned monopoly. Slow speeds, exorbitant pricing, and technological illiteracy all constitute major hurdles.Authorities are moving to address the capacity problem, but Turkmenistan's repressive regime is unlikely to relinquish its stranglehold on cyberspace access and content. All media -- including the internet -- are closely controlled. State censorship and surveillance are significant, as are intimidation tactics that encourage user self-censorship.This study highlights the ambivalent policies and practices that have left Turkmenistan mired in the digital doldrums, torn between its desire to join the worldwide web and its compulsion to control cyberspace.

Media Access and Policy; Media Platforms

Populism in Europe: CasaPound in Italy

October 1, 2012

Nationalist populist parties and movements are growing in support throughout Europe. These groups are known for their opposition to immigration, their "anti-establishment" views and their concern with protecting national culture. Their rise in popularity has gone hand-in-hand with the advent of social media, and they are adept at using new technology to amplify their message, recruit and organize.One of the most difficult to classify of these groups is the neo-fascist political and cultural movement CasaPound. CasaPound emphasizes modes of direct activism (for example, organising street protests, demonstrative actions, political campaigns and street marches) over more formal methods of political engagement. Unlike other far-right movements and parties in Europe for which immigration is the key issue, CasaPound's policy positions cover a range of economic and social areas with its primary concern being the "housing right" for Italian citizens.This report presents the results of a survey of Facebook fans of CasaPound. It includes data on who they are, what they think, and what motivates them to shift from virtual to real-world activism. It also compares them with other similar parties in Western Europe, shedding light on their growing online support, and the relationship between their online and offline activities. This report is the sixth in a series of country specific briefings about the online support of populist parties in 12 European countries, based on a survey of 13,000 Facebook fans of these groups.

Populism in Europe: Netherlands

September 1, 2012

Nationalist populist parties and movements are growing in support throughout Europe. These groups are known for their opposition to immigration, their 'anti-establishment' views and their concern for protecting national culture. Their rise in popularity has gone hand-in-hand with the advent of social media, and they are adept at using new technology to amplify their message, recruit and organise.Geert Wilders and his Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV) in the Netherlands are perhaps the best known of these new movements, enjoying steady growth since being founded in 2004. In the 2010 parliamentary election, the PVV won 24 seats, which made it the third largest party in the Netherlands, and gave it a key role in keeping the minority government of Mark Rutte in office. The PVV places strong emphasis on the need to address immigration and what it sees as a failed multicultural policy, with Wilders being well known for his often incendiary remarks about Islam. Recently, Wilders has been directing more of his attention toward the European Union: opposing the deficit reduction plan, and Brussels more generally.This report presents the results of a survey of Facebook fans of the PVV. It includes data on who they are, what they think, and what motivates them to shift from virtual to real-world activism. It also compares them with other similar parties in Western Europe, shedding light on their growing online support and the relationship between their online and offline activities. This report is the fourth in a series of country specific briefings about the online support of populist parties in 12 European countries, based on our survey of 13,000 Facebook fans of these groups.

Sounding the Alarm Round 2: Protecting Democracy in Ukraine

July 1, 2012

In 2010 Freedom House released its first special report on Ukraine, "Sounding the Alarm: Protecting Democracy in Ukraine". That report, as the title suggested, warned that Ukraine was heading in the wrong direction on a number of fronts: consolidation of power in the executive branch at the expense of democratic development, a more restrictive environment for the media, selective prosecution of opposition figures, worrisome instances of intrusiveness by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), widely criticized local elections in October 2010, a pliant Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament), an erosion of basic freedoms of assembly and speech, and widening corruption. "Ukraine under President Yanukovych," last year's report warned, "has become less democratic and, if current trends are left unchecked, may head down a path toward autocracy and kleptocracy."A year later, most of those key concerns remain, and in some cases the problems have grown considerably worse, especially in the area of selective prosecution of opposition figures and corruption. The mayoral election in Obukhiv in March was widely criticized for its alleged rigging and fraud and bodes badly for the upcoming Verkhovna Rada elections. The term "familyization" was commonly used by interlocutors, implying that President Yanukovych's family has not only benefitted personally from his presidency (see the section below on corruption) but is increasingly at the center of power and governance. Freedom House's ranking of Ukraine in its Freedom in the World 2012 report remained in the Partly Free category with a negative trend; the same assessment can be found in Freedom House's just-released "Nations in Transit." Against this backdrop, Freedom House, with support from the Open Society Foundations' Ukrainian arm, the International Renaissance Foundation, undertook this follow-up special report on Ukraine.

Mapping Digital Media: Lebanon

May 8, 2012

Examines trends in Lebanon's digital media consumption, including its impact on public broadcasters, activism, journalism, and plurality; digital technology; digital media ownership, funding, and business models; and policies, laws, and regulations.

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Access and Policy

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