The Crisis of Local Journalism in V4 Countries
The project “The Crisis of Local Journalism in V4 Countries and the Specific Role of Municipal Newspapers” was designed and implemented by the Czech NGO Oživení, z.s , the Slovak Transparency International, the Polish watchdog Sieć obywatelska, and the Hungarian Merték Media Monitor, to address the crisis of regional journalism, which is a phenomenon common to all V4 countries.
Independent media is one of the cornerstones of democracy, not only on the national but also on the local level. However, over the last decade, more and more regions in the V4 countries have been lacking quality independent media that would secure balanced and objective information about local events and exercise control over regional politicians. Changes in the media market have led to the disappearance of independent regional newsrooms and the survival of entities that operate in symbiosis with regional or government politicians. As the formerly well-developed regional press is gradually disappearing, so called “news deserts” are expanding in all countries. The indispensable role of local media as a watchdog has not been fulfilled by any other entities. While some examples of quality regional journalism remain in every V4 country, systemic solutions and support are needed to address the most pressing issues, such as the low viability of media entities, the shrinking political independence, and the deterioration of transparency of media ownership.
By connecting local media representatives, individual journalists, and experts and launching a debate, the project has created a space for identifying the most appropriate tools to take action and improve the current situation.
The partners mapped the relevant actors and their position in the regional media environment in each country, analyzed the main reasons why independent regional journalism is disappearing, and paid special attention to the media published by cities and regions and their influence on the situation. The results of the research were published in a booklet where you can find conclusions about the state of regional journalism in the individual V4 countries and their comparisons.
The project also included roundtable discussions held in Bratislava, Budapest, Lublin, and Prague, attended by regional journalists, publishers, and experts who deal with media research. The discussions concerned the recent changes in regional journalism and the support it would require to fulfil its role in local public life.