According to a recent survey by the organization “Reporters without Borders”, press freedom in Greece is in very low position throughout the EU (65th place, 2020). This is particularly worrying and should concern us all because it happens in other member states too, at a greater or lesser degree. Although Europe has traditionally respected freedom of press, we have recently seen an attempt to limit that freedom.
In November 2020, the European Parliament, in a resolution, condemned the “efforts of some Member State governments to silence the media critics and to undermine freedom and pluralism“. MEPs are particularly concerned about the state of the media in some EU countries, where they are now “an example of pro-government propaganda“. Especially during the pandemic, we have many examples where press freedom has been violated in many countries and especially in Hungary. The emergency measures taken by some governments in response to the Covid-19 outbreak had an impact on press freedom. There was also an attempt to terrorize the people for increasing their viewings.
Freedom of press is a fundamental element in any democratic polity and any liberal constitution. Freedom of expression, independence of the media and pluralism are enshrined in the EU legal framework, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights. Citizens have the right to accurate and objective information. Journalists perform this function and must be free and independent to reveal the truth. The state and the owners of the media must respect the freedom of press and not interfere in the work of journalists. Indeed, the concentration of media ownership in the hands of a few threatens pluralism, making it difficult to tackle misinformation. In fact, there are phenomena of violation of press freedom as pressures are exerted on journalists in favour of one or the other point of view, while the websites that are responsible for controlling fake news are not always objective. It is doubtful as to what extent those responsible for fact checking are independent or serve other interests.
The Association of European Journalists condemns interference in the work of journalists and misinformation. It also condemns the prosecution of journalists who try to uncover the true facts and inform the public objectively. We are in favour of isolating fake news but we are also in favor of an independent and impartial authority that will check the accuracy of the news because otherwise this process is pure censorship of the news depending on the interests served. We also demand the media free from all kinds of economic and political dependence. We will also seek to protect the right to independent journalism, as, according to Mayer, “publishing is the soul of justice“. In other words, justice without freedom of press is meaningless!