There are a variety of ways for public authorities and private actors to put pressure on the media and silence critical voices. Dramatic acts against media – violent threats, imprisonment, even the assassination of journalists – are the most tangible and frequently-reported means of silencing the press. However, indirect forms of “soft” censorship are also very effective, if often underappreciated. Political and commercial pressure, abuse of defamation laws, precarious employment conditions for media workers, biased, “strings-attached” public funding – these may also silence journalists, induce self-censorship, or reduce editorial independence. In addition, while the online environment offers journalists new tools and opportunities for investigating and reporting, ill-conceived laws and policy – mass surveillance measures, blanket data retention requirements, overbroad antiterrorism laws – can also have chilling effects on journalism.
The panel will gather participants from various public spheres to bear witness to actual situations, on the ground, here in Europe. We will discover how advertisers can influence the content or editorial angle of a major news outlet and hear the results of a survey on self-censorship. We will learn about how a newspaper may be silenced when it is sold to new investors and, immediately afterwards, shut down. We will explore what happens to journalism when public service media becomes the government’s mouthpiece. And we will discuss strategies and means of resistance!