Mapping Media Freedom: “Journalism has become one of the most dangerous professions in the world”

November 12, 2018

“Today journalism has become one of the most dangerous professions in the world,” said Frane Maroevic, director of the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, at a panel discussion for the launch of Demonising the media: Threats to journalists in Europe at the Foreign Press Association in London on Friday 9 November.

The report surveys over 3,000 verified media freedom incidents in EU member states, candidates and potential candidates for entry as reported to Mapping Media Freedom, a project, funded by the European Commission, to investigate the full spectrum of threats to media freedom. It details how journalists face an array of threats from being burned in effigy, insulted and spat at, to being assaulted, sued and sent death and rape threats, since May 2014.

Also speaking on the panel were Deborah Bonetti, director of the Foreign Press Association, and Henrik Kaufholz, chair of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom. The panel was chaired by Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg.

“These threats are not far away. They are right here on our doorsteps, even in the UK,” said Ginsberg. Maroevic added: “We must put pressure on governments so that these threats and attacks don’t fade into obscurity.”

“What was traditionally a safe place for journalists, or what was perceived to be safe, is no longer as safe as we thought it was, and this goes for most western democracies,” said Bonetti. “I don’t think the journalist community has come to a Me Too movement yet.”

“If politicians think they will get votes by attacking the press, they will continue to attack the press,” said Kaufholz.

The report flags 19 deaths. Of the 445 verified physical assaults, Italy was the EU member state with the most (83), followed by Spain (38), France (36) and Germany (25). There were 437 verified incidents of arrest or detention and 697 verified incidents of intimidation. Among the member states, Italy’s journalists were intimidated most often, with 133 reports.

Paula Kennedy, assistant editor of MMF, said: “Mapping Media Freedom highlights the many dangers and problems faced by journalists in Europe as they try to do their job of holding power to account.”

Photographs by Leah Asmelash, Rosie Gilby and Joy Hyvarinen. Additional reporting by Leah Asmelash

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