Mediadelcom goes Africa!

Written by Prof. Dr. Susanne Fengler

Mediadelcom German PI Prof. Susanne Fengler (on the right in the photo) presented the Mediadelcom project last week at the annual meeting of the East African Communication Association (EACA) 2023. The highly reputable EACA brings together journalism and mass communication scholars from East African countries, but has an impact into the scholarly community in sub-Sahara African mass communication research far beyond East Africa. More than 100 researchers attended this year’s meeting in Kigali, Rwanda. See more:

African colleagues at the EACA connected instantly to the Mediadelcom core topic, as the lack of infrastructures for deliberative communication remains a major hinderance in many African countries. In the same panel with the Mediadelcom presentation, researchers from South Africa and Mauritius highlighted the relevance for indigenous languages for civic involvement in public debates in African countries. In the coming week, Mediadelcom German senior researcher Marcus Kreutler will present project results in Latin America.

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Public event in Warsaw: Seeking for social cohesion

In an era of polarization, lies and conspiracy theories, walls are going up between people with differing views, religions, and politics. With limited opportunities to talk and listen in a respectful way – to deliberate – what will it take to break down those barriers? While attention often focuses on what politicians and the media should do, what about the creative sector? What role can artists play in preserving freedom and promoting deliberation in order to bring communities closer together?

The Faculty of Journalism, Information and Book Studies, University of Warsaw, in collaboration with the Media Diversity Institute Global, is organizing an event which will explore the contribution the arts, culture and media sector can make to social cohesion.

11 May 2023, Warsaw

Read the overview

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Consortium meets in Warsaw

Mediadelcom country teams meet in Warsaw, Poland, to discuss the results from the fuzzy set and future findings’ dissemination. During the first day of the biannual meeting, the consortium talks about e-book proceedings and preliminary results of comparative fuzzy set analysis. Above that, the also aim to discuss the project’s impact, with on open public event dedicated to deliberate communications in arts, culture and media.

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Video: Insights on Media Freedom

Mediadelcom publicised a video on Youtube in what “talking heads” provide insights on Media Freedom – picked at the congress of the Polish Communication Association (in GdaĹ„sk, Poland, September 2022). The piece has been produced by the doctoral students of the Adam Mickiewicz University (PoznaĹ„); backed up by CEJC, PTKS and

Mediadelcom had a session of its own at the congress (cf. Podcast #30). Some people from the Mediadelcom consortium appear also in the video.

See the video on Youtube.

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First country case studies to appear before the new year

The expected term on publicizing the two country case studies would be before the end on the year 2022. The first reports will hopefully be uploaded in November 2022.

Edit [03-12-22]: The case studies are downloadable at the page of Publications.

The initial term was postponed due to several circumstances: the reports needed extensive upgrading, the expert interviews needed to completed (which was complicated in summer) and the drafts were resubmitted to the European Commission.

The observations emerging in the studies can be heard in the series of podcast episodes released between March and July 2022.

The first country case studies aim at the media research capabilities of each country to indicate the health of media and deliberative communication. Mediadelcom project coordinator Halliki Harro-Loit said in the Podcast episode #12 that not much of it has yet been researched in Europe.

The second case studies focus on the state of art under the four domains developed within the Mediadelcom project.

The member of the Advisory Board Prof. Daniel Hallin shared his observations upon the drafts reports at the consortium biannual meeting in Sofia, BG, in September 2022. He spoke on these observations also in the Podcast episode #29.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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Article: Resilience of media in the Baltics

An article referring to been supported by Mediadelcom has been published in the Journal of Baltic Studies. The article aims to analyze the resilience of Baltic media systems in the global network environment.

In this work, resilience has been defined as media systems’ ability to survive despite the efflux of resources and loss of audiences’ attention and trust, and as the capacity to support a reliable, transparent, and diverse information sphere for the functioning of democracy.

The authors claim that resilience of media systems depends on many structural factors and on many different agents operating in the national media markets. The article treats the resilience of Baltic media systems from two angles: (1) changes in the structural conditions of media systems and (2) policy responses to them.

Using media market data from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the changes in the media during the last three decades are under scrutiny. The analysis shows that Baltic media systems are relatively resilient. The situation in national media systems is reasonable due to the strong basis established by decisions made in the 1990s. Public service and private media in these countries both contribute to the pluralism and diversity needed in the public sphere. The public service media respond to audience needs and offer reliable content, at least in the traditional media sector. In the online sector, a new role for PSM and innovation potential needs to be found. Still, there are few resources in Baltic media markets. The competition conditions for national media and global platforms are currently unequal and favor global media.

One of the main sources for resilience in Baltic media systems are their audiences: they still mainly trust and consume domestic content. The audiences in Baltic countries are media literate and able to recognize quality content. Still, the risk that audiences may slip away to the less demanding and mainly entertaining and social-interaction world of social media exists. The risk is related to the lack of resources available for domestic media to produce attractive quality content for different audience groups in the form they prefer.

In terms of media policy, the situation is concerning. The main actors influencing media policy do not take the contemporary challenges of media policy seriously. A coherent view of how to strengthen national media systems is missing. The analysis concludes that the implementation of media policy currently does not guarantee the resilience of small countries’ media systems. Cf. the article here.

The article is authored by Ragne Kõuts-Klemm (EST), Anda Rožukalne (LVA) and Deimantas Jastramskis (LTU).

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First studies of Mediadelcom get ready

First two sets of studies by Mediadelcom are getting ready. The studies have already been presented to the European Commission as an interim report, but for the general public the improved and edited version will be published in July 2022.

The first country case studies aim at the media research capabilities of each country to indicate the health of media and deliberative communication. Mediadelcom project coordinator Halliki Harro-Loit said in the Podcast episode #12 that not much of it has yet been researched in Europe.

“Each country has mapped out what kind of research sources and what kind of data is available in four domains in the 21st century. The question – who collects analysis and creates knowledge about the risks of deliberative communication – is also very important for our project. We studied what media researchers, various public agencies, private companies, single researchers have done and published. The level of accessibility of the data and analysis is also important. And of course, what is the quality of the data collected: to what extent and who has been financing research and monitoring, if at all. In some countries, the financing is pretty poor.

Of course, we asked whether this data collection and research has been random or systematic. The monitoring potentiality is very important because the main risks associated with media and deliberative communication appear in small daily changes. The absence of mechanisms to monitor the daily application of fundamental values for deliberative communication is critical because we may lose these values so quietly. Small practice-shifts are easily normalized and there is a risk that the society may wake up when it is too late to reverse these small changes and their normalization. Hence, our first case studies are designed to identify the areas where, for various reasons, there is a knowledge cap, no data collection and no attention towards certain risks.”

Marcus Kreutler has been the leader of the first case study task force. He said, “We had a number of countries that mentioned the huge importance that even single, e.g., EU financed project has had on the research landscape in the area. Estonia and Latvia come to mind, for example. They have mentioned several EU projects that really improved the data that has been assembled on that country. And at the same time, for example, Slovakia mentioned that relatively little participation in such international comparative projects would also prefigure a risk.”

Halliki Harro-Loit added, “That’s why the diachronic dimension is actually important because, to be part of any comparative project, you need to have qualified scientist and data analysts. That is why those having less resources will lag behind. While our comparative analysis, we need to pay attention to the reasons for some countries lagging behind even in cases of European comparative projects.” The Podcast episode #12 provides more detailed deliberations upon the first case studies. The second case studies focus on the state of art under the four domains developed within the Mediadelcom project. As for the initial purposes, the studies appear to be lengthy and descriptive and, thus, need to go though a thorough process of editing and reshape to make them easily readable and comparable by countries. All reports under WP2 are going to be public in July 2022. Up to then, the subsequent podcast episodes will cover the findings, country by country.

Picture: Pixabay

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Mediadelcom’s first year of activities recapped

The first calendar year of the Mediadelcom project under the EU programme H2020 has almost come to its end. The for finding risks and opportunities for European media landscapes was kicked off in March 2021. During the first 10 month of its run, the project teams carried out a number of preparatory tasks. The project’s intended path over all three years can be found in website section Departure Point.

Four domains have been theoretically developed, upon which further research will be based. The domains have been popularly discussed in Podcast episodes 3, 6, 8, 10. The domain theory and variables were tested in pilot studies reported at the consortium meeting in Tallinn, Estonia (listen to Podcast episode 7). The research teams started to write the first reports– country case studies – which were initially drafted by early November 2021. The country case studies are scheduled to be completed in early 2022.

At the same time, the second set of reports will be accomplished – the comparative case studies. The methodology of these comparative studies is to be developed. Furthermore, a comparison of the 14 participating EU countries will be made using the fuzzy set approach (cf. Podcast episode 9). The deliberations by divers consortium members regards to the project’s advancement you can listen to in the Podcast episode 11.

Preparations for the first book under the working title European roads: Different risks and possibilities will start in 2022. Also, the literature database based on country studies will be built up.

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The Global Handbook of Media Accountability forthcoming

A book on global media accountability is coming out. Largely based on outcomes of MediaACT project under the 7th Framework Programme (FP7), the EU’s research funding programme between 2007 and 2013, several editors of this book come from the teams of the ongoing Mediadelcom: Germany and Austria.

The Global Handbook of Media Accountability brings together leading scholars to de-Westernize the academic debate on media accountability and discuss different models of media self-regulation and newsroom transparency around the globe. With examination of the status quo of media accountability in 43 countries worldwide, it offers a theoretically informed comparative analysis of accountability regimes of different varieties.

As such, it constitutes the first interdisciplinary academic framework comparing structures of media accountability across all continents and creates an invaluable basis for further research and policymaking. It will therefore appeal to scholars and students of media studies and journalism, mass communication, sociology, and political science, as well as policymakers and practitioners.

More information from the publisher’s website.

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Four Shades of Censorship: Report on state intervention in the Central Eastern European media markets

The paper ‘Four Shades of Censorship’ presents the results of the project “Good practice sharing for a more open and transparent media across developing democracies in CEE”. The project, funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, aims to provide a comprehensive picture of media policy processes in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania, based on up-to-date data.

The project was led by (HU), and involved MediaForum (CZ), ActiveWatch (RO) and MEMO 98 (SK).

The research pays special attention to the specificities of the media market and the situation of journalism, and analyses the legal environment not only on the basis of legislation but also on the basis of the practice of law enforcement. In contrast to other media policy analyses, the most important specificity of the research is that it focuses on the collection and processing of primary data instead of the secondary processing of expert interviews and literature sources. With its broad methodological background, it provides an evidence-based report that is a relevant starting point for media policy decisions by industry, government and the European Union.

The cumulative impact of the media policies of the past years in the CEE countries (and in Hungary in particular) has resulted in a comprehensive transformation of the media systems. This has gone hand in hand with the weakening of the safeguards of media freedom and a contraction in the room for manoeuvre of independent media practitioners and outlets. On the basis of our research it is clear that this process rests on three pillars: (1) the undermining of the independence of the organisations responsible for overseeing private and public media; (2) the manipulation of access to the market resources necessary for media market activities; and (3) the manipulation of the information environment by controlling the access to public information and the political agenda (political interference to the PSM).

The countries under review, Czechia, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania, share a number of similarities, mainly due to their historical and geographical position. Despite the similarities, the four countries offer significantly different boundary conditions for media freedom and the functioning of media market players. This is also reflected in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.

Figure: Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index (Source: The Report, p. 7.)

Mertek Media Monitor is also a partner in Mediadelcom project.

Download the report

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Tallinn meeting location

View to the Theatre Estonia from Teatri väljak. Snapshots from Google Maps street view.

The Mediadelcom Tallinn workshop will take place on 7–11 Sep at Teatri väljak 3, Tallinn. Teatri väljak means ‘Theatre Square’ and is located near the opera and ballet theatre Estonia. At the other end of the square, there is the ministry of foreign affairs.

At Teatri väljak 3, there are the Tallinn premices of the University of Tartu. It is located between a reconstruction site and the scientific library of the Tallinn University. Once upon a time, this all used to be the quarter of the Academy of Sciences – when the Academy was a set of research institutes during the soviet time.

In front of the entrance, there is a bus stop. Bus ride is free for the city citizens, but all foreigners need to buy a ticket , which can be done by simply touching the card reader with your bankcard at the front door (this also applies to arrivers from Tartu).

See the map below:

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