Media reporting: facts, nothing but facts?

NEWS | 19 November 2018

What rules and initiatives exist to help ensure the accuracy and objectivity of news and current affairs reporting? A new report maps the regulatory framework on the European level and in eleven countries, including Finland.

Publication cover - Media reporting: facts, nothing but facts?In Media reporting: facts, nothing but facts?, the European Audiovisual Observatory provides an overview of how the principles of accuracy, objectivity and fairness in news and current affairs reporting are regulated at European and national levels, as well as how they are applied by European and national media organisations.

As for European law, the report describes how the European Court of Human Rights watches over and applies the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Hereby it has established a comprehensive case law related to the media field, and the report points to a number of legal cases – including examples from Denmark and Iceland – in which the Court has reviewed national decisions on Article 10 of the European Convention, which addresses freedom of expression.

Examining European standards and policy, the report looks at the Council of Europe, which has made over 80 recommendations and resolutions relating to media since 1970, concerning, e.g., media ethics, public service media, the right to reply, and defamation of people featured in the media.

Further, the report also looks at the codes of conduct adopted by professional media interest groups, such as the European Federation of Journalists, the Ethical Journalism Network, and the Alliance of Independent Press Councils of Europe (and internationally, the International Federation of Journalists).

In the country chapters, national experts focus on the national rules and legal instruments concerning accuracy and objectivity in broadcast, print and online media in their respective countries. In addition to Finland, the chapters cover the UK, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Russia, and Slovakia.

The Finnish chapter includes, e.g., the Law on Freedom of Expression in Mass Communication, the Criminal Code, and the self-regulating media system, the last of which is conducted through the Finnish Council for Mass Media. The report also describes the Council of Mass Media’s Responsible Media campaign, which in 2018 created a brand (in Finnish) that can be used by media that follows journalistic rules. The chapter is written by Anette Alén-Savikko, University of Helsinki/University of Lapland.

The report concludes with a summary of the Council of Europe's most recent actions in this field, for example its latest Resolution, adopted in April 2018, which concerns the protection of editorial integrity.

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The European Audiovisual Observatory is a public service body providing information on the various audiovisual markets in Europe and their financing, as well as analyses and reports on the legal issues affecting the different sectors of the audiovisual industry. The Observatory is part of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, and is comprised of 40 member states and the European Union, represented by the European Commission. Read more