Hot Topic - Press/Media Freedom
The descent of Poland’s current government into autocracy has been widely chronicled. In a bit more than two years the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has waged a relentless campaign mixing nationalism and populism with conservative theocracy and conspiracy theories. A main target has been the country’s media sector and those who work within it.
Every crisis is an opportunity for the world’s authoritarian rulers. Removing critical voices enhances their positions, they believe. Jailing reporters and editors is easy, like chasing away media support organizations. The real bonus for dictators is closing publishers and broadcasters.
Illustrating the precipice upon which media freedom across the world sits, Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) warned of an approaching “tipping point” in its recently released annual World Press Freedom Index . The accompanying report is gloomy, “an ever darker world.” Societies adhering to a free-flow of truthful information, once-hopeful, have been plunged into dystopia by dictators, autocrats and thugs. Later the same week US-based NGO Freedom House released its annual World Freedom of the Press 2017 report. The reports are strikingly similar: the dark side is winning.
The old ways are definitely out for news reporting. The new normal is a news cycle measured in micro-seconds and defined by social media. Autocrats expect reporters to recite the press releases and dig no more. Those who dare challenge are banished, jail to follow. And it creeps across borders.
Anybody even vaguely associated with journalism and the news media is consummately aware that the month-old US presidential administration is hell-bent on discouraging any reporting less than fawning from appearing in print, on television, radio or online. To discourage is far too mild; try crush. A key advisor referred many times last week to the news media as an “opposition party” to be fought “every day,” without any sense of irony, at a far-right political conference. “Oh, this could be messy,” to quote Alanis Morissette.
Sharp, often scathing words and images in the news are meant to shock. Sometimes this sells, circulations and ratings boosted. A slap can also inform. Not all stories benefit from tact and subtlety. It is the privilege of a free press.
Total media control is the dream of "illiberal" autocrats. Provoked by critics, irked by nosey reporters they prefer soft news sprinkled with a good dose of conspiracy theory. Secrets must always be kept, never spoken or written. Their prism is, however, so last century. Distortions inevitably find light.
See also in ftm Knowledge
Press/Media Freedom - Challenges and Concerns
Press and media freedom worldwide is facing challenges from many corners. As authoritarian leaders impose strict control over traditional and new media with impunity, media watchers have concerns for democracy. This ftm Knowledge file accounts the troubles of this difficult decade. 88 pages. PDF (December 2011)
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Media in Spain - Diverse and Challenged – new
Media in Spain is steeped in tradition. yet challenged by diversity. Publishers hold great influence, broadcasters competing. New media has been slow to rise and business models for all are under stress. Rich in language and culture, Spain's media is reaching into the future and finding more than expected. 123 pages, PDF. January 2018
The Campaign Is On - Elections and Media
Elections campaigns are big media events. Candidates and issues are presented, analyzed and criticized in broadcast and print. Media is now more of a participant in elections than ever. This ftm Knowledge file reports on news coverage, advertising, endorsements and their effect on democracy at work. 84 pages. PDF (September 2017)
Fake News, Hate Speech and Propaganda
The institutional threat of fake news, hate speech and propaganda is testing the mettle of those who toil in news media. Those three related evils are not new, by any means, but taken together have put the truth and those reporting it on the back foot. Words matter. This ftm Knowledge file explores that light. 48 pages, PDF (March 2017)
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