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IREX MSI: Biased Content and Self-Censorship Plague Media in Eastern Europe

April 27, 13:00 UTC+3
1 pages in this article

WASHINGTON, April 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/. When asked how the media serve their needs, Georgians, Moldovans, and Ukrainians highlighted the poor, politicized, and sensationalized reporting as major issues. IREX's Media Sustainability Index 2016 (MSI) for Europe & Eurasia includes fresh consumer perspectives in addition to those of media professionals to produce these findings and more. See http://www.irex.org/msi for the full text of the report.

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A participant in the Georgia study commented, "Biased content is the 'ugly truth' of our media system." He added it was common knowledge that, "All media sources represent the interests of different political parties, groups, or the government." Reflecting on the quality of media content, a reviewer from Ukraine said, "Unfortunately, our state politics, media, and even NGOs…do not analyze real causes. The society discusses consequences, not reasons."

IREX measures the health of a country's media sector using five criteria, including the legal environment, quality of journalism, and media management practices. Media professionals from each country score each criterion and provide qualitative reviews. An expanded methodology for the 2016 edition, piloted in Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, added a separate round of questions posed to media consumers regarding how well media serve their information needs. The responses show a substantial difference between the views of media professionals and the views of civil society about the media. 

While many governments continue to put up barriers to independent reporting, journalists in Europe and Eurasia, faced with diminishing advertising or sponsorship income, self-censor against reporting that is critical of businesses. A Macedonian participant pointed out, "It is now more difficult to publish anything against the telecom or the power-supply company…than against the government." Albanian participants reported that a multinational mobile telecommunications provider refuses to advertise in Shqip newspaper due to critical coverage of its services.

Ukraine, Armenia, and Kosovo are among the countries that show improvements in the media environment. Countries where the media environment deteriorated include Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

The U.S. Agency for International Development funds the MSI in 21 countries. The MSI is a trusted survey of international media health, providing donors, media advocates, local professionals, and scholars 15 years of in-depth data.

Jennifer Nevin Anderson, Communications Director, IREX, +1 (202) 628-8188, jnevin@irex.org, www.irex.org/msi

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