The Council of Europe has adopted a Recommendation calling on its 46 member States to create a favourable environment for quality journalism to thrive and to play its essential role in democracy. The recommendation contains a set of legal, administrative and practical guidelines aimed at ensuring sustainable funding for quality media, building trust in journalism, and promoting media literacy.
The Recommendation was developed by the MSI-JOQ Committee of experts on quality journalism in the digital age, where CMFE actively participated.
In relation to community media, the Recommendation states that:
Scope and context
(…) it is important to ensure that everyone has access to a diverse range of journalistic content, irrespective of income levels and socio-economic barriers. Public service media and not-for-profit community media must be able to maintain their crucial role in that regard. They should be supported in their progress towards digital transformation, including through adequate means and funding, in order to retain their social value and relevance. (...) A.14
1. Funding: promoting quality journalism as a public good
· Targeted support: any proactive or corrective measures taken by States should take into account the distinct roles and important contributions to quality journalism of different media actors, including commercial media, public service media, community media and independent journalists, whether traditional, digital-based or mixed. They should all be eligible, in principle, to benefit from State policies and measures aimed at enhancing the financial viability of the sector, with the understanding that targeted differentiated support for specific types of journalism may be more effective than generalised measures. National frameworks providing for support measures should include appropriate safeguards to protect the editorial independence and operational autonomy of all media. 1.1.3.
· Community and local media: in upholding media diversity as a basis of quality journalism, States should develop and promote a range of funding schemes and instruments, including at the local level. This may include the availability of public funds for the provision of local news in the public interest, and other measures to ensure that community media, as well as other types of independent media serving local and rural communities, have the space and adequate resources to operate on all distribution platforms. 1.1.5.
2. Ethics and quality: rebuilding and maintaining trust
· Children: (...) Community media activities involving different age groups in journalistic training and production contribute to exchange and dialogue across generations, and also need specific support. 2.1.6.
· Local media: rebuilding trust and healthy relationships with (local and hyperlocal) audiences can be achieved through collaborative practices such as hyperlocal online newsrooms and other innovative approaches that enable journalists and the public to work together on issues that are original, relevant and popular. In particular, mechanisms for support of the following activities should be developed through multi-stakeholder engagement, including with local communities:
o development of viable business models for local and hyperlocal journalism;
o building a digital presence for local and hyperlocal media outlets;
o capacity building for not-for-profit and community media serving the needs of local communities, including linguistic needs. 2.4.3.
3. Education and training
· Support for independent MIL initiatives: States should establish adequately funded financing instruments for independent MIL initiatives. Such initiatives by media organisations, public service media, community media, independent regulatory bodies, civil society actors and other relevant actors should be supported by way of strategic co-ordination at the national level, based on a dedicated policy and strategy development, implementation and evaluation. 3.1.4
· Community media: community media play an important role in training future journalists and in promoting inclusion by meeting the various communication and media needs of different segments of society, offering spaces for self-representation to the otherwise “voiceless” and reflecting diverse communities as integral and respected parts of the audience. They should be supported in encouraging students and young people to become involved in journalism, and improve their media literacy as well as their general knowledge through research, identifying experts, conducting interviews and producing and broadcasting journalistic pieces. Furthermore, support should be provided for exchanging good practices in multilingual and intercultural media training to facilitate inclusive quality media output and production across Europe. 3.2.5.
Links to the Recommendation:
Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on promoting a favourable environment for quality journalism in the digital age (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 17 March 2022 at the 1429th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)
Recommandation du Comité des Ministres aux États membres sur la promotion d’un environnement favorable à un journalisme de qualité à l’ère du numérique (adoptée par le Comité des Ministres le 17 mars 2022, lors de la 1429e réunion des Délégués des Ministres)