by Nik Williams
The COVID-19 pandemic transformed Europe, in the same month when the Media Freedom Rapid Response started its first year. It pushed the inaugural MFRR Summit online and its presence haunted many of the sessions organised between 17 and 20 March 2021.
It is against the backdrop of the pandemic, where countries such as Slovenia, Hungary and Poland have perfected ways to extend government influence over media outlets, regulators or public broadcasters; where protest movements have mobilised anti-media sentiment to target journalists reporting on demonstrations across Europe and where online smear campaigns have transformed social media platforms from journalistic tools to unusable sources of unwarranted toxicity for many.
Four day online Summit
Over four days, eight panel discussions, two workshops and one keynote, 32 journalists and experts from 16 countries came together to diagnose the current media freedom landscape in Europe, where their fears lie, what threats to expect and what needs to change. Moving into 2021, they all gave a captivating but ultimately worrying view of the landscape journalists, media workers and outlets have to traverse in the coming weeks and months.