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Monitoring Mediascapes for Democratic Communication in Europe

Leading researchers, academics, and media representatives convened in Brussels on February 15th for the culmination of the EU-funded Mediadelcom project, shedding light on the pivotal role of deliberative communication in bolstering democratic principles amidst a global election year frenzy.

Author: Yelyzaveta Bezushko | 21. February 2024

With over 60 major elections scheduled worldwide in 2024, including within the European Union, the conference themed “Monitoring Mediascapes for Democratic Communication in Europe: Meet the challenges of an election year” underscored the imperative for transformative change in the media sphere.

Watch the full recording of the event here.

The event marked the conclusion of the Mediadelcom project, a three-year research initiative investigating the opportunities and risks associated with deliberative communication in the context of today’s polarised European context.

The project’s findings, based on the most comprehensive study of its kind in Europe, were presented and discussed by keynote speakers and panellists, including Laura Becana Ball, (GFMD), Renate Schroeder (European Federation of Journalists), Zrinjka Peruško (Centre for Media and Communication Research (CIM), University of Zagreb), Marius Dragomir (Media and Journalism Research Center), Eric Heinze (Queen Mary University), Ioana Avădani (CIJ), and Michał Głowacki (University of Warsaw).

Central themes addressed at the conference encompassed the hurdles confronting traditional media in the digital era, the potential of deliberative communication to bridge societal divides, and the pivotal role of media in nurturing informed and engaged citizens. Moreover, emphasis was placed on the significance of initiatives like the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) in safeguarding journalistic integrity and promoting media autonomy.

In a panel session centred on freedom of expression and freedom of information, It was acknowledged that the idea of the EMFA is to protect journalist sources much better than before, to protect journalists from spyware and to have more independence in public service media. Renate Schroeder emphasised the importance of the public service media system in society in fostering societal trust in journalism while urging for inclusivity and collaboration within media organisations:

“In those countries where they have a good public service media system, there is generally more trust in journalism, in media […] That shows how important it is to have independent public service media. It also shows how important it is for publishers not to fight against public service media but to try to have alliances together with them” she noted.

She also urged media organisations and journalists to be more inclusive in carrying out their duties saying that

“It is so important to find new models and to keep diversity and pluralism in media out there to be able to reach out”

Bordering on the principles of inclusiveness and collaboration, Laura Becana Ball stressed the importance of media organisations and journalists working together to achieve a common goal:

“Many of us in the media community, be it academics, be it civil society, be it the main journalists, we’re still working in silos. We’re still holding some information from ourselves and, I think, from the learnings from the policy process, we shouldn’t be doing that. We should start really sharing, really focusing on what is useful.”

From left to right: Marcus Kreutler, Michał Głowacki, Renate Schroeder, Laura Becana Ball and Tanya Sakzewski.

She noted that without effective dialogue following a constructive approach, not much can be accomplished in the media space.

“If you want some achievements, you need to prioritise dialogue and consensus […], you need to have this key objective of finding an agreement and consensus or allowing this dialogue to happen”, Laura Becana Ball emphasised.

The Mediadelcom project concludes with recommendations aimed at policymakers, media professionals, and civil society organisations, calling for a renewed commitment to deliberative communication as a cornerstone of a healthy and vibrant democracy.

Relevant resources

You might also find useful the following GFMD resources:

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