Enabling Environment

First, a functioning rule of law and legislation that guarantees freedom of expression and press freedom are crucial. Journalists and independent media need to be able to function in an environment that supports the role of independent media and journalists in society, without having to fear retaliation. This however is far from reality at the moment.

More and more restrictions on press freedom

In recent years we have seen a steady increase in attacks, intimidation and prosecution aimed at journalists. The amount of repressive legislation worldwide that significantly restrict the freedom of movement of journalists is increasing, also in democracies. And whereas access to public information is crucial for journalists to be able to hold their power holders to account, this right is under unprecedented pressure. In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen governments intimidating and opposing journalists when they submitted requests for information about the government’s actions to fight the pandemic.

Threat to the future of journalism

Of equal importance is an economic environment that is favorable and enables journalists to earn a decent income and to function independently. With media ownership divided among several players and without political interference. However, currently quality journalism and independent media houses around the world are struggling to financially survive. The loss of advertising revenues and economic and political pressure have changed the media environment, making it harder for journalists to earn a decent income. This threatens independent journalism.

Selling newspapers in Central African Republic
Selling newspapers in Central African Republic. Photo: Jeppe Schilder

What we do

Free Press Unlimited is committed to establishing an enabling environment for independent media and journalists. Advocacy is crucial to create the legislative and policy measures necessary for press freedom and a safe and viable work environment for journalists. It is important to promote physical safety for journalists through advocacy, to advocate against arbitrary detention and improper prosecution of journalists, and to campaign for the improvement of the current negative political climate towards journalists.

Our goal is to safeguard the access to reliable information and independent, timely news for people. For this we for example support research, like Freedom House’s research into the impact of Covid-19 on democracies worldwide, including the increasing restrictions on press freedom.

International cooperation

Our advocacy for press freedom, contributions to the development of relevant policies and international standards and efforts to raise awareness on threats or opportunities play a central role in this theme. We do this on a national, European and international level by engaging with policy makers and by working in coalitions. We work together with UNESCO since 2016, for example on organising events around World Press Freedom Day. We are part of multiple international networks like the Global Forum of Media Development network, the Whistleblowing network, and the IFEX network committed to defend and promote freedom of expression as a fundamental human right. These networks bring together international and national actors to coordinate and work jointly to achieve the best results possible in the creation of an overall enabling environment for media and journalists.

For more information on this theme, please see our Media Advocacy resource guide.

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