Analysis

Data recorded via Mapping Media Freedom is used to generate empirical analyses and to identify regional/national patterns, case studies and positive developments in the field of media freedom and pluralism in Europe.

Mapping Media Freedom: Monitoring Report 2021

Partners of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) have published the latest MFRR Monitoring Report, outlining the state of media freedom throughout all EU member states, candidate countries, and the United Kingdom in 2021.

The report includes a visual analysis of the data compiled for Mapping Media Freedom, which collects and visualises all press freedom violations recorded by the MFRR monitoring partners. Before delving into country-specific analyses, the report highlights media freedom violations linked to COVID-19 and online/digital attacks, two categories that feature prominently throughout the 2021 report. The report closes with a list of positive developments for media freedom in the previous year.

An overview of the report’s key findings can be found below.

From January to December 2021, 626 alerts were documented on Mapping Media Freedom (MapMF), ranging from verbal attacks to legal incidents. These alerts affected 1,063 individuals or media entities in 30 countries. The violations include the murders of three journalists: investigative journalist Peter R. de Vries in the Netherlands, veteran crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz in Greece, and local radio presenter Hazım Özsu in Turkey.

Fact Sheet: Mapping Media Freedom

European Union Member States

The Year 2021

This fact sheet is a selection of statistics and analysis from Mapping Media Freedom (MapF), submitted by the partner organisations in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR). This data covers the period from 1 January until 31 December 2021 in the 27 current EU Member States (i.e., it does not include the United Kingdom).

It provides an overview of the different issues faced by journalists and media actors in 2021 in European Union Member States. Each alert documented on Mapping Media Freedom is classified based on a detailed category system, including the type of attack, type of aggressor (source), and the place (context) in which the attack happened. Through analysis of these aspects, more information about the characteristics of the attacks can be revealed, which provides deeper insights into the situation of press and media freedom and its trends.

The respective alerts of this fact sheet can be viewed directly in the Alert Explorer here. This fact sheet includes the analysis of all incidents of the year 2021 published until 15 January 2022. If cases are reported and published after this date, they will still appear in the data linked in the Alert Explorer above to give an up-to-date view at any time.

Beside the overview, this document also provides more detailed information on the following selected topics: COVID-19protestsonline and digital attacksphysical attacks, and attacks against women journalists.

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.

EU Fact Sheet: Media Freedom Overview (01 January 2020 – 31 December 2020)

This fact sheet is a selection of statistics and analysis from Mapping Media Freedom (MMF), submitted by the partner organisations in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR). This data covers the period from 1 January until 31 December 2020 in the 27 current EU Member States (i.e., it does not include the United Kingdom).

Throughout the period, 280 alerts were recorded on Mapping Media Freedom (with 908 persons or entities related to media being attacked) in 23 EU Member States. Each alert is classified based on a detailed category system, including the type of attack, type of aggressor (source), and the place (context) in which the attack happened. Through analysis of these aspects, more information about the characteristics of the attacks can be revealed, which provides deeper insights into the situation of press and media freedom and its trends.

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:

July 2020

126 alerts in 4 month – MFRR-report documents severe threats to media freedom across Europe

The year 2020 seems to add another sad chapter on the decline of media freedom in Europe. Main reasons were the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, police violence and online harassment. Find all details in first MFRR-report.

January 2019

Mapping Media Freedom: By the numbers May 2014-July 2018

The numbers are stark and the contexts very, but the unmistakable message they convey is that journalism is at risk in the EU35

A companion to Demonising the media: Threats to journalists in Europe, the numbers contained in this document are drawn from 3,187 press freedom violations reported to Mapping Media Freedom, an Index on Censorship project, between May 2014 and July 2018 covering 35 European Union member states, candidates and potential candidates for entry.

Targeting the messenger: Journalists face an onslaught of online harassment

Mapping Media Freedom correspondents and other journalists discuss their experiences with harassment in the digital realm that has become so commonplace that it is underreported and underestimated.

“This reporter should be raped.”

This was the response from online trolls to Polish journalist Ada Borowicz after she published the story of an attack on a woman in Italy. Borowicz’s ‘crime’, apparently, was to have published the report without referring to the fact the attackers were alleged to have been migrants. Writing on Facebook Paweł Kukiz, a member of parliament and the leader of the right-wing populist movement Kukiz’15, described Borowicz’s reporting as “scandalous”.

Borowicz, who is also Mapping Media Freedom’s correspondent for Poland, was suspended from duties, and recalled from the assignment. Though her management did not give any explanation, she was told by a colleague that she was being punished on account of Kukiz’s Facebook post. The online threats followed.

When her contract with the government-controlled TVP Info was due to be renewed, an extension was not forthcoming.

This report is also available in PDF format

Targeting the messenger: Investigative journalists under extreme pressure

There is a distinct lack of awareness among decision makers about how bad the situation is for journalists reporting on corruption

What do criminals, corrupt corporations and crooked politicians have in common? They all fear investigative journalists, whose job is to expose wrongdoing and hypocrisy by holding the powerful to account.

For their work, investigative reporters have come under threat from multiple sources with the shared aim of stopping information that’s in the public interest from coming to light. Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom project, which monitors violations against media professionals throughout Europe, recorded 206 cases of investigative journalists in the 35 countries that are in or affiliated with the European Union (EU35) being targeted in their line of work between 1 May 2014 and 31 December 2018. An additional 77 reports from EU35 showed media workers other than investigative journalists being targeted for their role in reporting on corruption.

This report is also available in PDF format

Targeting the messenger: Journalists ensnared by national security legislation

As security – rather than protecting rights and freedoms – becomes the top priority of governments worldwide, laws have increasingly been used to obstruct the work of media professionals in the 35 countries that are in or affiliated with the European Union (EU35).

Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom project, which monitors violations against media professionals in 43 countries, has received 269 reports of cases where national laws in the EU35 have been obstacles to media freedom between 2014 and 2018.

This includes everything from the hundreds of journalists jailed in Turkey following the 2016 failed coup to the seizure of a BBC journalist’s laptop in the United Kingdom, as well as Spain’s Citizens Security Law.

This report is also available in PDF format

November 2018

Demonising the media: Threats to journalists in Europe

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.

This report is also available in PDF format

November 2018

Targeting the messenger: Journalists on the frontline of protests

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.

2018 Q1/Q2 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 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 Reports

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.

Q1/Q2 2017
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.

2016 Reports

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

2015 Reports

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

2014 Report

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.