Budapest, Tirana – The contemporary picture of media in many Balkan countries – some of them now EU members – is one of a tragically unfulfilled promise, affirms Aidan White, director of the Ethical Journalism Network in his introduction to the country reports released by SEENPM. The final balance sheet from this comprehensive audit of media conditions reveals a considerable democratic deficit with much still to be done by policymakers and media to nourish the journalism needed to combat a suffocating atmosphere of political and corporate corruption.
Indeed, it is impossible not to conclude that this is a critical moment for journalism and democracy in South East Europe. Across the region strategic actions are needed to support independent journalism and to eliminate specific obstacles to media freedom – legal, social, and professional – that are a road block towards democratic reform. No two countries are the same, but each is assessed according to established benchmarks covering how journalism is practiced and how media work.
The reports covering January-December 2012, monitor the levels of threat to press freedom; relations between media and politics; the role of law in media governance; the state of broadcasting; changing market conditions; the scope for ethical journalism and self-regulation; and the role of journalism education.