New media freedom watchdog established in Czech Republic
The Czech Republic has a new media freedom watchdog. A number of leading journalists this week established a Czech branch of the International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists set up to protect press freedom and support independent journalism wherever it is under threat.
She says there is plenty for the organization to do in this country.
“We see in the Czech Republic today an unprecedented conflict of interest stemming from the fact that the prime minister, Andrej Babiš bought the Mafra publishing house in 2013. He has been forced to put it in a trust fund and denies influencing journalists in any way, but we have seen the content of those publications change. I think the fear of oligarchs undermining press freedom is valid in this country and there is every reason to defend and fight for journalists who are producing independent, quality journalism.”
The founders of IPI Czech Republic are now addressing other respected journalists with offers of membership in the organization. Veronika Sedláčková says their goal is not just to defend press freedom but to support quality journalism in every way possible.
“What we want is for our members to follow what’s happening on the Czech media scene and be available to any journalist who might be in need of help or advice. We should also help to define the concept of quality, independent journalism. I think this is particularly important in view of the strong Russian propaganda in this country when many people are finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish between fake news and reliable information. So there is plenty of work for us here – we are at the very outset.”
Further proof of the fact that independent journalism is facing problems in this country is the Czech Republic’s rating on the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index where the country slid eleven places down last year.