EMMA

Political pressures still challenge press freedom in Europe, says Michael Ringier in keynote speech in Wroclaw

Friday, July 01, 2016

Wroclaw, 1 July 2016

Last night in the Wroclaw Town Hall, Michael Ringier, Chairman of the Board of Ringier AG, addressed a high-level audience of approximately 60 media experts, journalists, politicians, start-ups and technology experts from 13 different countries at a dinner was hosted by the Mayor of Wroclaw, Rafal Dutkiewicz. This dinner set the stage for the “(R)EVOLUTION OF EUROPE’S PRESS” conference,which is to take place tomorrow, 1 July.

“The media landscape in Eastern Europe has developed as rapidly in approximately political 10 to 15 years as it has in Western Europe in fifty years,” said Ringier. “Democracy, rule of law and market economy have liberated domestic forces and attracted above all foreign capital. The immense wave of modernization would not have been possible without money and know-how from the West.”

While Ringier notes the progress that has taken place within the media systems in Eastern Europe, he also cites a number of current challenges that put political pressure on the media today, such as taxes that are directed specifically against certain media companies and the adoption of laws to challenge the work of critical journalists.

“In the traditional print world, we had to support journalists in Eastern European countries in the practice of their trade over many years,” said Ringier. “Even today, the professional influence of the parent companies is still required at times.”

Ringier continued by emphasizing the autonomy afforded to journalists in country subsidiaries, saying that “there is not one single Swiss or German employee on the journalism or operational level. Decisions are solely made locally: in Romania by Romanians and in Poland by Poles.”

“The main destination of our colleagues today is Krakow; however, not to teach someone something, but instead to learn from our Polish colleagues how they do it,” said Ringier, citing the state-of-the-art work of the Onet project.

Changing political priorities, technological innovations and market fluctuations all impact the state of press freedom in Europe. In addition to Ringier’s keynote address, two other speeches were given by Christophe Deloire, Secretary General of Reporters Without Border, who highlighted the state of press freedom in Europe and some of the challenges journalists are facing today, and Grzegorz Piechota, Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, who talked about how technology and the rise of social media in particular has changed the media ecosystem.

While press freedom in Europe is generally considered to be doing well, Deloire said that the results of the annual World Press Freedom Index, which is produced by RSF, show that many countries have struggled in recent years. As an example, he mentioned Poland, which fell 29 places in one year – the furthest fall of any country worldwide.

“None of the main problems that mankind is confronted with – climate change, corruption, poverty, abuses – will be solved without high quality journalism,” said Deloire. “We have to defend honesty rules, methods and independence and freedom together.”

For more information about the event, please visit www.revolutionpress.eu.



*This coalition is made up of: the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Czech Publishers Association, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, the European Journalism Center, the European Federation of Journalists, the European Magazine Media Association, the European Newspaper Publishers' Association, FIPP – the network for global media, the Future Media Lab., Fondation EurActiv, Gentner Verlag, Heise Medien, the Hungarian Publishers Association, the International Press Institute, Journalismfund.eu, Mediengruppe Klambt, the Polish Publishers Association, PRESSCOM, Reporters Without Borders, Ringier Axel Springer, the Slovak Publishers" Association, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, and Wroclaw 2016: European Capital of Culture.

For further information contact:

Karin Fleming
Communications Manager, EMMA

karin.fleming@magazinemedia.eu

+32 2 536 06 07