By Jane Whyatt
One of the most high-risk assignments for a journalist or camera crew in Europe is to cover a protest. In 2020, more than 1 in every 4 press freedom violations (25.9%) recorded on Mapping Media Freedom happened during demonstrations.
How this is experienced in real life was vividly described in the Media Freedom Rapid Response summit by Tamara Filipovic Stevanovic of the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia, Monique Hofmann of the German journalists’ union dju in ver.di and French journalists’ union leader Emmanuel Vire of the SNJ-CGT. Hundreds of incidents on the Mapping Media Freedom website give details of physical injuries and psychological scars. Many more are clearly going unreported, at least in Serbia.
Panellist Tamara Filipovic Stepanovic of the Serbian journalists’ union NUNS commented:
“Political will is still something that we miss”
outlining a key flaw in the relationship between the media and the state in protecting journalists.
Current themes in France are the demonstrations against proposed new restrictions – including the Global Security Law – whilst in Germany the “Querdenken” anti-lockdown marches and motorcades put media workers at risk of infection as well as hostility.
In the chair, Jantine van Herwijnen of Free Press Unlimited emphasised the importance for democracy of the right to freely report on dissent and political gatherings.