Media freedom, independence and diversity
Free, independent and pluralistic media based on freedom of information and expression is a core element of any functioning democracy. Freedom of the media is in fact essential for the protection of all other human rights. Instances of torture, discrimination, corruption or misuse of power many times have come to light because of the work of investigative journalists. Making the facts known to the public is often the first, essential step to start redressing human rights violations and hold governments accountable.
Worrying signals of repression and violations of media freedom can be observed in a number of European states. Different forms of control and pressure over the variety and content of media hamper their independence and pluralism. Cases of journalists who are deprived of their liberty because of their work continue to occur. Cases of harassment, intimidation, violence - and even murder - have been documented.
During his country visits and continuous dialogue with national authorities, media professionals and civil society, the Commissioner gathers information, identifies shortcomings and provides advice on ways to improve media freedom and the protection of journalist.
He also supports initiatives aimed at strengthening media professionalism and ethical journalism and the establishment of self-regulatory mechanisms.
Human rights and a changing media landscape (2011)
The publication Human rights in a changing media landscape aims at raising awareness about the need and importance of free, independent and pluralistic media for democratic societies. It also points to the strong connection between media freedom and the protection of human rights.
The Commissioner invited eight experts to give their personal assessments of six topics and how they relate to human rights: protection of journalists from violence; ethical journalism; access to official documents; media pluralism; public service media; and social media and human rights. In a foreword the Commissioner gives an overview of the trends on these issues in Europe.
The contributions of the experts on which the book is based have also been published as separate papers:
- "How to ensure that the Internet remains an open and public forum for exercising freedom of opinion and expression and facilitating other human rights and fundamental freedoms"
- "Safety of online media actors as a precondition for media pluralism and freedom of expression"
- Ethical Journalism Initiative - Journalism and the Challenge of Intolerance