The tense situation in the Slovak public broadcaster RTVS is in the spotlight once again. The Media Committee of the Slovak Parliament is requesting an investigation of its unbalanced coverage ahead of the 2020 parliamentary election after independent monitors warned about the issue. Journalists are drawing attention to the leadership’s breach of editorial independence and the broadcaster’s employees are demanding reform and depoliticization of the organisation. All while private media are warning about the loss of vital advertising revenue due to the coronavirus crisis.
How has the Polish journalism changed in the past decade – and how will coronavirus affect this change?
Ten years ago, we lived in a totally different media landscape in Poland. Right-wing press was nothing but a peripheral folklore, the Internet was dominated by short, poor quality content, and nobody even thought of using social media as a source of info about the world. Printed press was still selling pretty well, journalists were merely taking their first steps as soldiers in the Polish-Polish war, while reports from news agencies had still much greater outreach than any tweeted fake news. There was money to spend on foreign correspondents, or at least there was a common belief that they would get their funding, while the reporters had more time to spend running around their cities.
The media in Hungary has never been free from political influencing. Ever since the democratic transition in 1989, the media – and especially the public media – has been considered as a fundamental instrument by political parties to convey their messages to the voters, and not as a public sphere of discussion and debate. Dominance of the media gradually shifted from a one-party communist control in the beginning of the 1990s to a bipolar structure, where government and opposition parties both tried to exert their influence over selected media outlets. The 1990s were characterized by the so-called media wars in Hungary, resulting in a clear left-right divide in the media landscape. This division has prevailed for a long time, with market forces still playing an important, yet weakening role.
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