Media Freedom
Media Freedom in the Shadow of Covid-19

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The protection and promotion of press freedom is an ongoing task for liberals everywhere. Intimidation, arrest, and repressive laws designed to combat alleged false reporting are only a couple of challenges that many European media professionals deal with on a daily basis. In this context, the public health emergency resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has created a dangerous opportunity for the expansion of authoritarian rule in European countries, where freedom of the media has been sharply deteriorating.

To shed light on the issues surrounding media freedom throughout the crisis, the International Press Institute teamed up with the FNF European Dialogue Programme office and the European Commission over the course of 2020. The goal of this project was not only to document the crisis, but also to develop Europe wide campaign responses as well as targeted responses to emerging developments in individual countries.

The campaigning focussed primarily on EU policy makers and national governments, to ensure that basic principles of Rule of Law were not jeopardised by the 22 different forms of emergency powers announced across the continent at the beginning of the project. The awareness raising campaign was developed across social media and in a podcast. A circle of stringers monitored and reported on restrictions on press freedom and its impact across the EU, with a special focus on Central Europe & the Baltic States. In addition, the project installed a comprehensive COVID-19 Tracker, which monitors attacks on journalists and the press worldwide linked to the pandemic.


COVID-19 Press Freedom Tracker

Amid the spread of COVID-19, the free flow of news and information is more essential than ever. The COVID-19 Tracker monitors attacks on journalists and the press worldwide linked to the pandemic.

Press Freedom Covid 19 Tracker

Article Series: Reporting the Impact of Covid-19 on Journalism

The Covid-19 pandemic is not just a health crisis. Independent media in Europe are facing tremendous political and financial pressure. As part of the reporting series “Media Freedom in Europe in the Shadow of Covid”, IPI correspondents from across the EU provided in-depth analysis of the ways in which the European media landscape is being reshifted in 2020. You can find all the articles in this series here

Podcast: Press Freedom Files

Check out IPI's podcast "Press Freedom Files" and the first episode on the aftermath of the Kuciak verdict on September 3 2020.

You can find all episodes on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

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Report: Media Freedom in Europe in the Shadow of COVID-19

The monitoring report presents a summary of the violations arising from the pandemic that IPI has documented throughout the year on its COVID-19 Press Freedom Tracker and through its reporting series by correspondents across Europe. Unsurprisingly, many of these violations came from those states with existing authoritarian tendencies and already chequered media freedom records such as Hungary, where the pandemic has been exploited to grab more powers and tighten control over information. 

The report will be presented to the Media Working Group in the European Parliament in 2021 and you can find all insights, as well as the complete report here.

Report Launch Event

On the 11th of December, we launched the report, together with IPI, in a web talk with the following speakers:

  • Meera Selva, Director of Journalists Fellowship programme, Reuters Institute, Oxford
  • Ramona Strugariu, MEP Romania RENEW
  • Cristina Lupu, Executive Director, Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ), Romania
  • Borut Živulovič, Photojournalist, Slovenia
  • Jamie Wiseman, Advocacy Officer, IPI
  • Moderator: Barbara Trionfi, Executive Director, IPI

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