Hot Topic - Press/Media Freedom
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.
Owning and operating a media organization is a tough slog in the digital age. There have been dropouts despite the alluring promise of fame, fortune and show business. For every one seeking escape new media operators spring up, plenty of them. Not all have the same aspirations. And we know who they are.
Armed only with their digital devices, pens long ago disappearing, media workers seem less equipped to fend off the onslaught of paranoia, polarization and propaganda. Complicit authorities keep inventing new and creative ways to sideline even basic news, lest the public know too much. Where media freedom is respected, however, folks seem to get along quite well, even happier. Perhaps that’s the point.
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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Fake News, Hate Speech and Propaganda – new
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)
In the media sphere nothing is more important than knowing the audience. Once in a generation a target group evolves to catch the attention of publishers and broadcasters, advertisers and media buyers, social critics and politicians. The Millennials, also known as Generation Y and digital natives, are it, with unique characteristics and behaviors. They have already reshaped everything we do. 35 pages, PDF (December 2016)
State Aid - Media Rules
National authorities have at their disposal a variety of economic measures to stimulate, develop and improve competitive market sectors. Sometimes they miss the big picture or have special circumstances. Within the European Union an executive branch of the European Commission stands ready to clarify the rules of each and every game. State Aid rules are developing as the playing field gets bigger. 35 pages, PDF (September 2016)
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