It was in Russia that the word “oligarchs” was first used to denote very rich businessmen. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has adopted the term to refer to billionaires who create or take over media empires to serve their business or political interests. There is a worldwide trend towards increasingly concentrated ownership of conglomerates that combine media outlets (TV channels, radio stations, newspapers and news websites) with banks, telecoms, property firms and construction companies. All this suits the rulers of countries such as China that espoused capitalism in order to better suppress democracy.
Entitled Media: when oligarchs go shopping, RSF’s latest report describes a world in which journalism and freedom of information run up against an invisible wall consisting of money and conflicts of interest. From now on, RSF intends to keep addressing these new threats to journalistic independence, which constitute a major challenge for democracy.
Coinciding with the report’s publication, RSF is launching a communication campaign together with the advertising agency BETC. Called “How oligarchs kill freedom of information,” it takes the form of a “quick manual for the good oligarch.”