Locked Down: Protecting Europe’s Free Press

Media freedom is in jeopardy but there is no democracy in Europe without a free press in Europe

In 2020, Mapping Media Freedom published 378 alerts documenting violations of media freedom across 29 countries in Europe. This means out of the 33 EU Member States and Candidate Countries (including the UK), only 4 countries have not been represented on the platform. 

1159 journalists, media workers and outlets were the target of these violations that come from many sources including the state, organised crime, leading business leaders and unknown members of the public. Few aspects of society are untouched. 

The idea of Europe as a bastion of media freedom is in jeopardy. Every journalist, media worker and outlet across the continent needs solidarity, support and action to ensure media freedom remains intact and the powerful remain in the scope of scrutiny. 

Between 17th and 20th March, the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), which monitors and tracks media freedom violations, will bring together leading journalists from over 13 countries and representatives of press freedom organisations, unions and journalist bodies to discuss key threats and trends that underpin threats to media freedom across Europe. This includes:

  • The impact of COVID-19 and states’ response to the pandemic on media freedom and the public’s right to know;
  • How demonstrations and protests emerged as one of the most dangerous beats for journalists and media workers across Europe;
  • The impact of police actions on media freedom;
  • How states silence independent scrutiny through the capture of outlets and regulators;
  • The wielding of SLAPPs to silence critical reporting by the wealthy, powerful and thin-skinned;
  • Modifying the legal landscape to criminalise critical reporting, isolate journalists and target meda freedom;
  • Fighting the normalisation of gendered online harassment and smear campaigns across Europe.

The conference will also feature an opportunity to learn more about the first year of the Media Freedom Rapid Response and its mission to monitor the media freedom landscape across Europe and support at-risk journalists and media workers across Europe. 

The keynote that will take place at 10am (CET) on 17th March will feature the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan, as well as a video message from European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová. It will also feature a short documentary recorded during lockdown with at-risk journalists, media workers and whistleblowers from nine different countries telling their story and giving voice to the lived impact of a deteriorating media freedom environment across Europe.



17th March

Keynote 10:00, 17th March 2021 (Duration: 80 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_GRRCtZUvQ9KW8rjUeX_Cig 


Panel Discussion – COVID-19: Pandemics, Public Health and Press Freedom
12:00, 17th March 2021 (Duration: 60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Hf4dqFrKQqau4hL_2yv6tA 


Panel Discussion – State Capture: Undermining Independence of Media Outlets and Regulators
13:30, 17th March 2021 (Duration: 60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_N3cEsWMoTpuj7ePzvjvXRA 


18th March

Panel Discussion – Protect or Persecute?: Police Threats to Europe’s JournalistS
12:00, 18th March 2021 (Duration: 60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_3xs5TB-PRY-GsLYhvUsClw 


Panel Discussion – Protests: A Media Freedom Flashpoint across Europe
13:30, 18th March 2021 (Duration: 60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Nf6KnKHjSKeacrq9G6IbbQ 


Workshop – Mapping Media Freedom: Learn how to be a media freedom watchdog
16:00, 18th March 2021 (Duration:60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_D5QZlcHbR4OTND2fvf-QQQ 


19th March

Panel Discussion – Criminalising Europe’s Free Press: Legislative Threats to Media Freedom
12:00, 19th March 2021 (Duration: 60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_QHfp795ITDOBgy-Pc2XhaQ 


Panel Discussion – Sued into Silence: The use of SLAPPs to intimidate and silence journalists across Europe
13:30, 19th March 2021 (Duration: 60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_2_F97hw8Qj6aHhjVpEYfdg 


Online Harassment: Mitigating the emotional and professional impact of online hate
16:00, 19th March 2021 (Duration: 70 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_EZCDniLGTROFigUMN_zF3w

20th March

Panel Discussion – A Hostile Continent: Online harassment, threats and smear campaigns
12:00, 20th March 2021 (Duration: 60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_tYQ7wjFlRxW4euhvre-QTg 


Panel Discussion – The Media Freedom Rapid Response: A Year in Review
13:30, 20th March 2021 (Duration: 60 minutes)

Registration Link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_EoyBHnLiT5-gxqC8VrmZew