• Actual
  • Law and the media
  • Helpful
  • Work areas and campaigns
  • Reviews and monitoring
  • Physical threats, disinformation, censorship. Six modern challenges for the media

    Belarusian independent journalism has been in a troubled zone in recent years. Despite the difficulties, media professionals feel that things have become more stable, even with the profession’s repression and criminalization. During the roundtable discussion arranged by BAJ and the Mixer journalist organization (Poland), evaluations were made.

    “The question arises: to be or not to be?”

    The sit­u­a­tion with inde­pen­dent Belaru­sian media is well-known in the world. Pro­fes­sion­als are very well-versed in this mat­ter. No one needs to explain why the media is declared “extrem­ist” and their web­sites are blocked in Belarus.

    “You know how to find the truth even when the regime is pres­sur­ing you. The ques­tion aris­es: to be or not to be?” said Rena­ta Schroed­er, the direc­tor of the Euro­pean Fed­er­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists (EFJ).

    Jour­nal­ists in Europe are deal­ing with six major chal­lenges brought about by the con­flict in Ukraine. This also applies to the Belaru­sian media.

    “Jour­nal­ists are at risk of con­stant sur­veil­lance by gov­ern­ments. The emer­gence of new tech­nolo­gies used to spy on indi­vid­u­als affects media rep­re­sen­ta­tives first­hand,” Rena­ta Shroed­er iden­ti­fied one of the dan­gers.

    Nowa­days, jour­nal­ists face an increased risk of phys­i­cal threats and libel, as per her state­ment. Both from reg­u­lar cit­i­zens and from those on the polit­i­cal right and believ­ing in con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries.

    “In this sense, the indus­try has nev­er faced as many prob­lems as it does today,” she stressed.

    The head of the EFJ also called the per­se­cu­tion of jour­nal­ists an obsta­cle to pro­fes­sion­al activ­i­ty. More and more Euro­pean media are becom­ing vic­tims of unfound­ed law­suits.

    The next chal­lenge is even riski­er: stricter laws con­cern­ing the press. The sup­port­ers of the changes claim that this is nec­es­sary for nation­al secu­ri­ty and pre­vent­ing the spread of fake news.

    “Fur­ther­more, Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion has increased sig­nif­i­cant­ly, caus­ing con­flict in the entire Euro­pean region,” Rena­ta Shroed­er added. “False infor­ma­tion con­tin­ues to cir­cu­late, and pro­pa­gan­da sto­ries are being pro­mot­ed.”

    Final­ly, the sixth pos­si­ble issue is that many media out­lets do not have a busi­ness plan. This is an extreme­ly urgent prob­lem for the Belaru­sian inde­pen­dent media. Now they can­not work in a mar­ket set­ting, pre­vent­ing them from invest­ing in bet­ter­ing their con­tent.

    “I don’t see any objec­tive mea­sures for eval­u­at­ing media qual­i­ty,” stat­ed BAJ Chair­man Andrei Bas­tunets. “How­ev­er, the diver­si­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ties has marked­ly decreased. Despite sig­nif­i­cant declines in work­ing con­di­tions, most pub­li­ca­tions per­se­vere in main­tain­ing pro­fes­sion­al stan­dards.”

    “We need a Marshall Plan for the media industry”

    Dur­ing the dis­cus­sion, EFJ Pres­i­dent Maja Sev­er shared her per­son­al sto­ry of sur­viv­ing the war and cri­sis in Croa­t­ia.

    “For 30 years, we have been striv­ing to end war, progress in life, and devel­op our coun­try demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly in accor­dance with Euro­pean val­ues,” she stat­ed. “The cur­rent cri­sis, divi­sion, and esca­la­tion of soci­etal anx­i­eties do not sup­port the advance­ment of inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ism. In such con­di­tions, our pro­fes­sion becomes the first vic­tim.”

    At the same time, she thinks that the chal­leng­ing cir­cum­stances have made jour­nal­ists stronger and empha­sized the sig­nif­i­cance of pur­su­ing the truth, engag­ing a broad audi­ence in their work, pre­sent­ing a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive, uti­liz­ing inno­v­a­tive tech­nolo­gies, and per­form­ing more exten­sive research.

    “To improve qual­i­ty, we need to keep invest­ing,” stat­ed Rena­ta Shroed­er. “Maybe we need a Mar­shall Plan for the media indus­try. How­ev­er, we should not invest in enter­tain­ment report­ing sole­ly to gen­er­ate clicks. It is nec­es­sary to invest in edu­ca­tion and the study of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence. There are many risks and oppor­tu­ni­ties asso­ci­at­ed with this top­ic.

    “It is nec­es­sary to improve net­work­ing, and BAJ is a good exam­ple in this sense.

    “Invest­ment in men­tal health is a must, too. Sup­port the exiled media more by pro­vid­ing edu­ca­tion as well as finan­cial assis­tance.”

    “State media should be banned”

    The leader of the Lithuan­ian Jour­nal­ists’ Union, Dainius Radze­vičius, who also took part in the debate, pro­posed a new approach to eval­u­ate the sit­u­a­tion.

    “In places with­out pub­lic broad­cast­ing, talk­ing about jour­nal­ism becomes impos­si­ble,” he thinks. “Indeed, there are folks with devices. But it allows you to spread pro­pa­gan­da…”

    The Lithuan­ian media rep­re­sen­ta­tive firm­ly stat­ed the need to pro­hib­it state media. In his opin­ion, they should not exist in a demo­c­ra­t­ic coun­try.

    “State media is evil. If the media is direct­ly influ­enced by the author­i­ties, there is no jour­nal­ism left,” said Mr. Radze­vičius.

    The alter­na­tive, accord­ing to the chair­man of the Lithuan­ian Union of Jour­nal­ists, should be the inde­pen­dent media. But he thinks it’s not suit­able to exam­ine the media indus­try in Belarus: there’s no envi­ron­ment, no chance to earn prof­its from ads and intro­duce mon­e­ti­za­tion meth­ods.

    Read more:

    Free Word contest organizers name winners. PHOTOS

    Postcards for Maryna: RSF launches global campaign action in support of jailed Belarusian journalist Maryna Zolatava

    Important news. Lukashenka ordered the Belarusian embassies to stop issuing passports. Another threat to colleagues

    The most important news and materials in our Telegram channel — subscribe!
    Most read
    Every day send to your mailbox: actual offers (grants, vacancies, competitions, scholarships), announcements of events (lectures, performances, presentations, press conferences) and good content.


    * indicates required

    By subscribing to the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy