What is Mapping Media Freedom?

Mapping Media Freedom is a crowd-sourced platform that enables anyone to upload an alert that relates to threats against journalists and media workers across Europe.

The platform allows us to map and visualise threats, violations and attacks that restrict media freedom. This includes physical attacks, threats of violence made online and offline, legal actions aimed at silencing critical coverage and moves to block access to independent media platforms. All these actions, and many more, restrict media freedom and the Mapping Media Freedom platform helps us gauge the health of the media environment across Europe.

The alerts uploaded to the platform guide the work of ECPMF and the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) to directly engage with and help at-risk journalists and media workers.

The more alerts we have on the platform, the more we can offer practical, legal and advocacy support to those who need it.

Who can submit alerts?

Anyone! Anyone who wants to protect media freedom, including public watchdogs, journalists, media outlets and workers, and members of the public can submit an alert to the platform.

How do I submit an alert?

It couldn’t be easier. It can be done anonymously from your desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. All you require are the details of the threat and an internet connection.

Here is a quick step-by-step guide

  1. On the Mapping Media Freedom platform click Report New Threats at the top of the page
  2. Add the subject (a title for the threat i.e. Journalist threatened at protest in Paris
  3. Include a description of the threat with as much detail as possible to help us verify the alert. This can include hyperlinks and should be longer than 50 words
  4. Include the date
  5. Add the location
  6. Press submit
    If you have more information and details for the alert that you would like to include, you can use our longer more detailed form here LINK

What happens after I submit an alert?

Every alert is verified by our expert network before publication. The network is made up of European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI), as well as an international network of local partners.

Methodology

The process contains 3 main steps:

  1. Initial submission: Anyone can submit an alert via the online platform. The submission can be made anonymously.
  2. Verification: The alert is verified by our network of experts. The sources of information are checked and examined for inaccuracies and further information is collected and added to the alert. Further sources of information can include  details published on other platforms or verification through direct communication i.e. email or phone conversations with relevant people. The incident will also be  classified  according to different aspects, based on our classification system.
  3. Publication: If the alert was successfully verified, it is published and publicly available on our platform. It will also form part of our platform-wide analysis and advocacy work.
  • Types of incidents: We cover incidents regarding censorship, legal aspects, and physical/psychological incidents (including physical assaults, harassment/psychological abuse and attacks/threats to property). For more details please see the classification system below.
  • Who:  We focus on threats to journalists and media workers. However, due to the complex nature of threats to media freedom we go beyond this and also document threats addressed to:
      • Persons who are being attacked due to their personal or professional connection to journalists and media workers, such as family members or journalists’ sources;
      • Media companies like media owners, media houses or publishers;
      • Associations like trade unions or Non-Governmental Organisations fighting for press freedom
      • Threats or attacks aimed at the media in general, such as laws restricting press freedom or blocking access to websites or sources of information.
  • Who is considered as a media worker?
    • A media worker is anyone participating in the gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting of news and information.
    • We include media workers of the following types: journalists/editor, photographer/camera operator, translator/fixer, blogger/citizen journalist, whistleblower, media owner/broadcaster/press cartoonists
    • Here is a resource prepared by the American Press Institute for more information: https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/journalism-essentials/what-is-journalism/

Which countries do we cover? We cover alerts throughout European Union Member States, Candidate Countries and neighbouring states. This includes threats made in these countries against individuals from outside Europe i.e. a non-European journalist who is attacked in a European country.

To ensure every threat to media freedom is captured on the Mapping Media Freedom, we break down each alert into a number of categories. This ensures we can capture enough information and direct our verification work.

The categories are:

  • Type of threat
  • Source of threat
  • Who was attacked?
  • Context of threat
  • Type of journalist or media worker
  • Gender
  • Employment status

There are also a number of specific topics that can be assigned to each alert to help us identify trends and themes within countries and across Europe.

These include:

  • Coronavirus/COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2
  • Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP)
  • Gender-based threats

Threats connected to:

  • Target’s real or perceived sexual orientation
  • Racism/Xenophobia
    • Immigration status

The Mapping Media Freedom platform also enables us to identify the number of individuals and organisations (including individual journalists and media workers, alongside outlets and the media as a whole) who have been threatened in the alert.

The platform’s methodology complies with journalistic standards employed by the Reuters and AP international news agencies. When uploading an alert, users are encouraged to share links to news or online media outlets to help the verification process.

Each alert is verified by three trusted and independent sources which include but are not limited to:

  • local and national media outlets
  • journalist unions
  • police reports
  • social media accounts of the individuals directly involved.

When violations are self-reported or when clarification is needed, our experts also verify alerts with the media worker(s) affected by getting first-hand testimony, as well as speaking to journalists’ unions and other relevant organisations and stakeholders. Our verification process is multi-layered: in which our experts work with a team of independent journalists to verify and report incidents submitted to the website. The goal is to achieve the most complete narrative of the incident that accurately reflects the objective events.

We require at least three independent verification sources. Those sources should be trustworthy news links, internet sources or verification via individual contact, which may be with the target of the threat themself, as well as witnesses or other relevant stakeholders with knowledge of the incident.

Due to reasons of data protection and the protection of at-risk journalists and media workers, witnesses, and sources, we do not publish any information about the verification  process via individual contacts. Instead, we just publish an acknowledgement that the information was obtained from individual contacts and the number of contacts we communicated with..

Only in exceptional cases will an incident be published with  fewer than three verification sources. These cases are threats which aren’t published in the media yet or are too sensitive to be published, but may be verified through individual contact. All sources and verification processes are accessed and approved by our expert network. Reports are treated with utmost confidentiality.