Monitor

The MFRR deploys a systematic and comprehensive monitoring of press and media violations in all EU member states and candidate countries to guide and direct all responses to defend press and media freedom and protect journalists and media workers. All threats can be viewed on the Mapping Media Freedom platform and form the basis of our legal, protection and advocacy work across the continent. By capturing and presenting every threat, whether legal, physical, psychological or a form of censorship, the MFRR encourages further advocacy and public support for greater protections for all journalists and media workers.  

MFRR’s monitoring work is led by ECPMF, IPI and EFJ and is based on a continent-wide network of experts, journalists, policy makers and other key partners to collect, document and verify all threats.

Mapping Media Freedom

Central to our monitoring work is the Mapping Media Freedom Platform that captures, represents and visualises threats to journalists and media workers, submitted by partners, watch dogs and members of the public. This platform offers an unprecedented picture into the threats to press and media freedom in all EU member states and candidate countries. By publishing the results of our monitoring we are also establishing a foundation for further public advocacy work, exposing violations and demonstrating the need for political, physical and legal protections for press and media freedom.

We invite everyone to submit a threat to ensure we can protect every journalist or press worker in EU member states or candidate countries. Your involvement will strengthen this work and ensure that the project can respond to all threats we receive.

Mapping Media Freedom: Monitoring Report

January – June 2021

January 2021 marked the start to the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic. While many countries had previously signaled that strict lockdowns and emergency legislation would no longer be necessary, most European states welcomed the new year with more coronavirus cases than ever before and with severely restrictive measures.

On a positive note, in this period the first vaccines arrived in most European countries but with them also started anti-vaccine protests which have continued throughout 2021.

It also proved that the consequences of the pandemic were now affecting many areas of society, shaping political discourses, radicalising some anti-lockdown movements, and threatening press and media freedom in most countries.

The current monitoring report for the Media Freedom Rapid Response has focused on summarising press and media freedom violations across EU Member States and Candidate Countries from January 2021 until June 2021. It must be noted that this is the first time that the monitoring report covers 6 months instead of 4. While it might create a temporary data overlap, the new update on the methodology will allow for the creation of biannual reports that better reflect general trends in half year periods.

Throughout the reporting period, 272 alerts have been documented, ranging from verbal attacks to legal incidents. 438 individuals or media entities in 26 countries have been subject to one or more press freedom violations, including the murder of veteran crime reporter Girogos Karaivaz in Greece.

26.1% of these alerts were related to Covid-19, from journalists insulted while covering anti-lockdown demonstrations to reporters receiving threats online for their coverage of vaccination programmes.

In fact, most violations of press and media freedom took place at demonstrations. Although not all of these demonstrations are linked to Covid-19, many incidents happened at anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown protests, where the press has become a target, as explained in the country analysis of Germany and the “Querdenker” movement.

The cross-country analysis also covers this topic with information from several countries. Online threats have also been on the rise in most countries, a trend that is widely explained in the thematic section of the report, which combines data on the topic from several countries and also the latest qualitative examples from Slovenia or Italy.

The most commonly recorded violation has been intimidation/threats (26.8% of the total), followed by physical assaults not resulting in injury (12.1%), Insults to media workers are the third most common threat (10.7%), followed by discrediting, physical assault resulting in injury, and attacks to equipment.

Private individuals remain the main source or perpetrators of attacks (41.2%), followed by police or state security forces (17.6%), then government/public officials (14%).

This monitoring report uses the same format as the previous ones to analyse the topics and threats that have affected press and media freedom in the covered area in Europe. The report has been compiled by the International Press Institute (IPI) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), with support from the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), in the context of the joint Media Freedom Rapid Response project which monitors and supports journalists, media workers, and platforms that have been threatened.

The report includes a visual analysis of the data compiled for Mapping Media Freedom, which collects and visualises all press freedom violations in the European Union and Candidate Countries. The quantitative analysis is followed by country reports, where MFRR partners highlight some of the most relevant cases of the first 6 months of 2021 in the most affected countries. After this, a cross-regional thematic comparative analysis focuses on the rise of online threats, which have been one of the main contexts of alerts during the studied period and will continue to be monitored in the coming periods. A second comparative analysis focuses on physical attacks against journalists. A brief conclusion closes the report.

The Media Freedom Rapid Response was launched in March 2020 to support at-risk journalists and media workers across EU Member States and Candidate Countries. Past reports can be freely accessed and downloaded on the MFRR website.

Mapping Media Freedom: A Four-Month Snapshot (November 2020 – February 2021)

EFJ and IPI, supported by ECPMF, have compiled the third monitoring report analysing the 4-month period between November 2020 and February 2021, charting the continuation of a worrying decline in media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.

The monitoring report compiled by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and International Press Institute (IPI), with support from ECPMF, gives unprecedented insight into the threats to media freedom in EU member states and Candidate Countries. Within the monitored period,  a total of 147 alerts were registered on the Mapping Media Freedom platform charting a wide range of threats across the continent.

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.

Mapping Media Freedom: A Four-Month Snapshot (July – October 2020)

EFJ and IPI, supported by ECPMF, have compiled the second monitoring report analysing the 4-month period between July and October 2020, charting the continuation of a worrying decline in media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.

The monitoring report compiled by European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and International Press Institute (IPI), with support from ECPMF, gives unprecedented insight into the threats to media freedom in EU member states and Candidate Countries. Within the monitored period,  a total of 114 alerts were registered on the Mapping Media Freedom platform charting a wide range of threats across the continent.

Key trends including the continued impact of COVID-19 pandemic (and governments’ responses to this crisis), the use of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) and other vexatious lawsuits aiming at intimidating journalists into silence, as well as the normalisation of online and offline harassment, threats and smear campaigns aimed at delegitimising, targeting and intimidating journalists and media workers:

Mapping Media Freedom: A Four-Month Snapshot (March – June 2020)

EFJ and IPI, supported by ECPMF, have compiled a report analysing the first 4-months of the MFRR, charting a worrying decline in media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.

The monitoring report compiled by European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and International Press Institute (IPI), with support from ECPMF, gives unprecedented insight into the threats to media freedom in EU member states and Candidate Countries. Within the monitored period from March to June a total of 120 alerts were registered on the Mapping Media Freedom platform from two-thirds of the countries covered by the MFRR.

Key trends including the COVID-19 Pandemic (and governments’ responses to this crisis) and the dangers from demonstrators and police officers for journalists and media workers covering protesters and demonstrations.

Mapping Media Freedom 2.0

In partnership with Institute for Applied Informatics at the University of Leipzig (InfAI), the MFRR will develop Mapping Media Freedom 2.0, which will automatically analyse and collate alerts about press and media freedom violations from online published news and social media. Once they have been verified by a network of experts, these alerts will expand the reach and efficacy of the MFRR’s monitoring process to enable it to respond more effectively across the continent.

Legal monitoring

Journalists and press workers are threatened with costly, time-intensive and damaging legal actions across the continent. The MFRR and our partners will monitor court actions to ensure due process and international legal norms are followed, demonstrate solidarity with the defendants, their colleagues and families and establish a basis for future advocacy, legal and practical support.

Council of Europe Platform

MFRR partners also upload a number of alerts to the Council of Europe Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists.