School of Transnational Governance

Saving journalism to strengthen democracy

STG's Madeleine de Cock Buning and co-authors provide guidelines for the new European Commission and EU member states to promote independent journalism.

New policies are needed to promote freedom of the press and thus democracy throughout Europe, scientists from the European University Institute (EUI), the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford and Utrecht University advise in a report to the European Commission. Professor Madeleine de Cock Buning, Professor of Digital Politics Society & Economy at the EUI’s School of Transnational Governance, is one of the authors of this report.

According to the authors, European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen is right to call “strengthening democracy” a key priority. How people consume news is crucial in this respect. That happens via digital, mobile and platform-dominated media, which calls for an urgent update of outdated policies. 

Today’s media landscape offers ample opportunity for free expression and "free" news, but also large-scale data robbery, fake news, online harassment and a market in which the largest companies always win.

"Ninety million Europeans live in a country with serious problems in terms of freedom of the press," said Professor Madeleine de Cock Buning. "The revenues of European news media are falling, which leads to redundancies, shrinking editorial staff and disappearing media outlets.”

In the report, the authors make concrete policy recommendations to the European Commission and for EU member states to create a more enabling environment for independent professional journalism.

They say policy-makers should make sure that all actors in the digital marketplace compete on a level playing field. Furthermore, there should be more public funding for innovation in journalism and news media to help with the digital transition. The authors also indicate that media policies should secure a more accountable, intelligible, and transparent platform-mediated environment through the promotion of multi-stakeholder oversight mechanisms, media literacy projects, and data access for independent research.

Access the Report: What can be done? Digital Media Policy Options for Europe (and beyond)



Image Credit: ©European Union 2011 PE-EP Pietro Naj-Oleari