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MFRR Summit | COVID-19: Pandemics, Public Health and Press Freedom

17. March 2021 @ 12:00 - 13:00


The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed Europe and media freedom is not immune. In 2020, 1 out of 4 alerts published on Mapping Media Freedom were connected to the pandemic in some way. As the virus spread, it gave cover for media freedom violations across the entire continent. Governments’ responses to COVID-19 have sparked large and coordinated protest actions across Europe, which have normalised threats of physical violence aimed at journalists reporting on the demonstrations. Further to this, the pandemic offers governments cover to restrict the press’s access to policy-makers, information and public health information. It has also exacerbated economic threats to media outlets, with states awarding ad revenue or pandemic relief funding to friendly outlets and sidelining independent or critical outlets. In this panel, chaired by Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT), speakers will diagnose the impact of COVID-19 on media freedom in Hungary, Greece and Netherlands. Jamie Wiseman of International Press Institute will also offer a continent-wide picture through IPI’s COVID Press Freedom Tracker.


  • Dr. Gábor Polyák, Mertek Monitor (Hungary)
  • Dr. Lambrini Papadopoulou, Documento (Greece)
  • Margo Smit, News Ombudsman for Public Broadcasters (The Netherlands)
  • Jamie Wiseman, IPI (Austria)
  • CHAIR: Paola Rosà, OBCT (Italy)

Dr. Gábor Polyák

Dr Gábor Polyák works for the Eötvös Loránd University as an associate professor and for the Eötvös Loránd Research Network as a senior research fellow. Further, he is the director of Mertek Media Monitor, a Hungarian NGO dealing with media policy issues. Before, he was the head of the Department for Communication and Media Studies at the University of Pécs between 2016 and 2020. He was a research fellow at the University of Münster, Institute for Information, Telecommunication and Media Law from 2014 to 2016. He teaches and does research in the fields of media law, IT law, media policy, and he also teaches media literacy for media teachers. In 2020, he was awarded by the Voltaire Prize for Tolerance, International Understanding and Respect for Differences of the University Potsdam.

Lambrini Papadopoulou

Lambrini Papadopoulou is an adjunct lecturer at the Department of Communication, Media and Culture at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences. She has also been working as a professional journalist for the last 15 years and is currently employed at the investigative newspaper Documento, writing about Press Freedom all over the world. She has cooperated with the Council of Europe and International Press Institute on various projects aiming to enhance Press Freedom. She holds a PhD in Media Business Models (Department of Communication, Media & Culture, Panteion University, Greece). She is a member of the International Federation of Journalists and the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA).

Margo Smit

Margo Smit is the News Ombudsman for Dutch public broadcasters and has been working in journalism since 1989. She was successively a desk editor at commercial and public broadcasters, parliamentary editor at RTL Nieuws, research journalist at KRO Reporter and director of the Dutch-Flemish Association of Investigative Journalists (VVOJ). In addition, she taught TV reporting at the Master’s program in Journalism at the University of Groningen between 2009 and 2017, and is a guest lecturer on ethics in journalism at various other journalistic programs in the Netherlands and Flanders. Smit is vice-chairman of the Global Investigative Journalism Network, chancellor of the Organization of News Ombudsmen (ONO) and board member of Journalismfund.eu. Smit has been the News Ombudsman since August 1, 2015, and is responsible for all journalistic output in the Dutch public broadcasting system since 1 January 2017.

Jamie Wiseman

Jamie Wiseman is IPI’s Advocacy Officer, focusing on Europe. As part of the press freedom team, he researches, monitors and covers violations, assists with advocacy and campaigns and helps coordinate media freedom missions. Previously he worked as a newspaper journalist in the UK, where he grew up. He holds a bachelor’s degree in literature from the University of Liverpool and a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.

Paola Rosà

Paola Rosà is a researcher and journalist at OBCT. She holds degrees in Political Sciences and International Studies, from Florence following her study of Translation at the SSLMIT, Secondary School of Modern Languages for Interpreters and Translators of the University of Trieste. As a Journalist and translator from German, she has worked for several media outlets in Trento, both as a freelancer and as a full-time editor, and has translated books by Reinhold Messner and social anthropologists, beside publishing her own research on German history. She has directed and edited several documentary films shot in Israel, Canada and USA, with a focus on emigration, First Nations and environmental activism. For OBCT she is the coordinator of the Resource Centre in the EU-funded project MFRR.


17. March 2021
12:00 - 13:00
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