Media freedom and female journalists safety online in SEE region

The seventh South-East Europe Media Conference entitled ‘The New Frontline: Working together to Foster Media Freedom’ took place online. It was organized by the office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (FRoM) and the OSCE Mission to Serbia, in cooperation with other OSCE field operations in South-East Europe (SEE). Journalists, media experts, civil society organisations, law enforcement representatives, and the judiciary discussed the online aspects of safety of the journalists, fight against impunity for attacks on journalists, and safeguarding freedom of expression. Jürgen Heissel, Director of the Office of the OSCE RFoM reminded that 57 OSCE participating states have pledged to the OSCE Ministerial Council Decision on Safety of Journalists, adopted in 2018. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the media faced public demand for information, as well as challenges with reliable data retained by public authorities and increased spread of fake news in relation to the COVID-19. Participants exchanged personal experiences and good practice for establishing effective national mechanisms for coordinated responses to threats and violence against journalists and other media professionals. Heissel underlined the Crucial role of law enforcement agencies and the judiciary in protecting and ensuring a safe and conducive media environment, both online and offline, has been underlined. Cases of violence against female journalists have been presented in a form of storytelling. Women journalists also shared their challenges with being present online while in doing their job, the online threats of sexual violence, intimidation and gender discrimination. OSCE RFoM developed a new Safety of Female Journalists Online Resource Guide. It underlines important actions for each of the stakeholders towards strengthening safety of female journalists online.