Released on Thursday, July 10, 2014 by UNESCO.
The overarching trend observed throughout is one of disruption brought on by technology and to a lesser extent the global economic crisis, with mixed results for freedom of expression and media development. The publication comes at a critical moment for press freedom amid unprecedented opportunities for expression of new voices as well as new forms of restriction, surveillance and control. World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development is a key resource for governments, the media, academia, the private sector and civil society and is an essential read for anyone interested in the contemporary media environment.
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Six Regional Overview Reports (PDF) are Also Available
The report reveals some positive trends showing greater diversity of sources and opinion due to online and mobile phone penetration, driven by citizen journalism and online media producers. But, overall, concerns remain high. Courtney Radsch, the report’s editor and now advocacy director for the Committee to Protect Journalists, pointed out threats to journalists were extending to online producers of content, adding that today all social media is journalism.
Elisa Muñoz, executive director of the International Women’s Media Foundation, pointed out threats to women reporters compound an existing problem where women are already under-represented in newsrooms around the world. “How can communities grow,” Muñoz asked, “when half the stories go untold?”
On the business side, in management and in ownership, women remain far behind their male counter-parts. Karin Karlekar, who served on the advisory council for the UNESCO report, and is project director of Freedom of the Press, the Freedom House annual survey of press freedom, expanded on the trends in ownership, citing the movement from public to private ownership. While pluralism appears to be served by this trend, Karlekar cautioned that especially in broadcasting, by directing licenses to friends and allies, governments can maintain effective control on the flow of information. “Although it could be a positive trend,” she said, “there is danger in assuming that private ownership is always better and is a positive indicator of improvement. State or public media can also play a positive role and influence in terms of diversity and pluralism.”