On 17 March 2022, the Council of Europe adopted a Recommendation on promoting a favourable environment for quality journalism in the digital age (CM/Rec(2022)4). The CoE called upon its Member States to create advantageous conditions for quality journalism as it plays an essential role in democracy.
The trigger to adopt the recommendation was the fact that the media sector has been weakened by the impact of digital transformation and, subsequently, by the Covid-19 pandemic, which accelerated the structural problems in the field of journalism. As Secretary-General Marija Pejčinović Burić said, “In recent years we have witnessed the growing spread of disinformation in a rapidly changing media environment. To protect our democracies, it is essential that the media perform their role according to professional standards and ethics. States should put in place practical measures to support quality journalism as a way to ensure access to reliable, independent and accurate information”.
The recommendation aims at promoting quality journalism in the digital age, and it contains a set of legal, practical and administrative guidelines. The document encourages states to adopt favourable institutional and fiscal measures when it comes to the media with respect to their independence. The document refers to a sustainable media environment and establishes actions such as state support schemes, balancing relations between online platforms and media organisations and transparency of advertising. According to the CoE, the favourable political and social environment is entrenched when the media pluralism, social value of investigative reporting, political non-interference and public service media’s contribution to society can be observed.
A large part of the recommendation is dedicated to ethics and quality – it highlights the importance of fact-checking, rebuilding and maintaining the trust of the consumer, inclusion, fair gender portrayal, non-discrimination and prioritisation of public interest journalism. The document also refers to the working conditions of journalists, as well as education and training.
The full text of the Recommendation can be found here.