The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) coalition launched its third press freedom monitoring report today, highlighting key threats to the exercise of journalism in Europe between November 2020 and the end of February 2021.
The report was compiled by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) with the support of the International Press Institute (IPI) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ).
In the four-month reporting period, 147 alerts (with 256 attacked persons or entities related to media) in 27 countries were uploaded to Mapping Media Freedom. When compared with the overall number of alerts from the two previous reports, this demonstrates the highest number yet: March to June 2020 (120 alerts), July to October 2020 (114 alerts).
A dominant trend is clear: there is no one source or type of threat that we need to protect against. This is a landscape replete with competing motivations, political contexts, methods and tools deployed to target media freedom that undermines the efficacy of a silver bullet approach to protecting journalists.
Instead, the analysis shows the need for long term, in-depth and nuanced responses from national, regional and supranational bodies, alongside increased public solidarity and support.
Key trends includes the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has directly impacted media freedom or given cover for state and non-state actors to target journalists and media workers; the continued use of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) and other vexatious lawsuits aimed at intimidating journalists into silence; the mobilisation of anti-media sentiment at protests to dissuade independent coverage, as well as the corrosive impact of online harassment, threats and smear campaigns directed at journalists, most explicitly women.
Taken together these reports highlight trends, particularly with regard to the safety of journalists, moving along a worrying trajectory that looks likely to outlast the first year of the MFRR.
This report is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.