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Media councils’ decisions help European courts define journalism

A new academic study "Distinguishing Journalism from other Sources of Information" was published within the project "Media Councils in the Digital Age" by Presserat, supported by the European Commission.

An academic team led by Prof. Nikolas Forgó (University of Vienna) analysed selected judgement and decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice as well as some Austrian and German national case law.

The scientists concluded that the European Court of Justice regularly stress the essential role of the press as a "watchdog" in a democratic society. However, the courts do not provide a clear definition of journalists or journalistic content. They interpret the terms in a broad way, including a wide variety of activities that provide relevant information to the public. According to the courts, it is important that published information, opinions or ideas contribute to a public debate. However, journalists who report on issues of public interest are granted a high level of protection if they act in good faith and according to journalistic ethics. Consequently, the study shows that the output of the press councils is also an important parameter for defining the legally protected work of journalists.

Besides the study, two Reports of the Annual Conferences of the AIPCE were also released by Presserat (edited by Alexander Warzilek, the director of the Austrian Press Council). The reports consist of speeches and contributions to discussions by various experts. The topics are related among others to journalism during the pandemic, discrimination of different social groups in the media, satire and freedom of the press, partial media and propaganda, challenges of the media in an age of extremes and the correct reporting gender-based violence.

Read "Distinguishing Journalism from other Sources of Information" report here!

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