Burned in effigy. Insulted. Menaced. Spat at. Discredited by their nation’s leaders. Assaulted. Sued. Homes strafed with automatic weapons. Rape threats. Death threats. Assassinations.
This is the landscape faced by journalists throughout Europe over the past four years.
Mapping Media Freedom has documented media freedom incidents across Europe — over 3,000 were surveyed for this report — since May 2014. The information gathered shows journalists and media outlets targeted in a kaleidoscopic array by political leaders, businesses and the general public – but some key trends have emerged from the reports recorded and verified by the platform. This document outlines some of these, and is intended as a survey of the landscape for media freedom in the region to aid lawmakers and those who wish to help an independent, pluralistic media landscape to flourish.
When protesters pour into the streets, journalists are among the first responders. Traditionally present at demonstrations to document and reflect, they are also among the first to be corralled, targeted and injured.
Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom project, which monitors violations against media professionals in 43 countries, provides an insight into the threats that journalists face.
Against a backdrop of nationalism, xenophobia, economic insecurity and anti-government sentiment, reporters have been targeted by demonstrators, counter-demonstrators and police. This report looks at 203 verified cases from the 35 countries in or affiliated with the European Union. There were 46 incidents in France, 33 in Spain, 32 in Germany and 15 in Romania.
The numbers reflect only what has been verified by Mapping Media Freedom. We have found that journalists under-report incidents they consider to be too minor, commonplace or part of the job, or where they fear reprisals. In some cases, project correspondents have identified incidents retrospectively as a result of comments on social media or reports appearing only after similar incidents have come to light.
Contexts vary but journalists face risks from protesters and the police, and from being stuck between the two. Thirteen of the 25 incidents reported in the first nine months of 2018 involved members of law enforcement.
Mapping Media Freedom has been recording threats to press freedom since 2014, highlighting the need for protection for journalists. The project monitors the media environment in 43 countries. In the first two quarters of 2018, 541 reports of limitations to press freedom were verified by a network of correspondents, partners and other sources based in Europe, with a majority of violations coming from official or governmental bodies (Q1: 247; Q2: 294).
2017 Annual Report
Mapping Media Freedom has been recording threats to press freedom since 2014, highlighting the need for protection for journalists. The project monitors the media environment in 42 European and neighbouring countries. In 2017 1,089 reports of limitations to press freedom were verified by a network of correspondents, partners and other sources based in Europe, with a majority of violations coming from official or governmental bodies.
Index on Censorship’s database tracking violations of press freedom recorded 571 verified threats and limitations to media freedom during the first two quarters of 2017.
1 July – 30 September: Journalists under “unprecedented” attack
An unprecedented series of crackdowns on media professionals and news outlets took place in Europe and neighbouring countries during the third quarter of 2016.
1 April – 30 June: Journalists increasingly caught in the middle
Violence against journalists in Europe increased in the second quarter of 2016, reports submitted to Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom platform show, as a government crackdown in Turkey intensified and protests turned violent in countries from France to Finland.
1 January – 31 March 2016: Europe’s stark deterioration of press freedom
Pressure on journalists in Europe increased substantially during the first quarter of 2016
1 October – 31 December 2015: Pressure on media professionals and pluralism growing
Pressure on Europe’s journalists as they do their jobs saw no let up during the fourth quarter of 2015
1 May – 30 September 2015: Europe’s journalists subjected to increasing levels of harassment
Journalists and media workers in Turkey, Hungary and the Balkans are facing increased hostility as they do their jobs
May 2014 – April 2015 – Europe’s journalists face growing climate of fear
Journalists and media workers continue to confront relentless pressure as they do their jobs
May – December 2014 – Under attack: violence and intimidation stalk journalists in Europe
Journalists and media workers are confronting relentless pressure as they do their jobs, a survey of the first six months of incidents reported to Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom project has found.