The Media Pluralism Monitor (MPM) is a tool that has been developed by our Centre to assess the risks for media pluralism in a given country.
In 2019 the CMPF will implement the MPM2020. The new project will measure media pluralism and freedom in the EU28 plus two candidate countries (Turkey and Albania). Different to previous Monitors, in the project’s first phase the CMPF will conduct a comprehensive study on the conditions and standards against which to assess risks to information pluralism online. Based on this study, the existing MPM tool will be updated with a set of new variables to provide a holistic, cross-country comparative assessment on the state of play of media pluralism both online and offline.
Although there appears to be an abundance of sources of information in the present media landscape, the fact is that the ways in which news has traditionally been collected, produced, disseminated and consumed have been upset by the internet and the rise of big tech.
The social and economic realities of the early 21st century have seen a developing crisis of trust in institutions as well as legacy news gatekeepers. The Internet has set the stage for information disorder to influence public discourse and forms of misinformation and disinformation, fuelled by anger, hate or simply advertising, have played a role in filling this gap in trust. As governments become aware of the threat of disinformation to democracy, some scramble to combat it with measures that are often problematic and may pose a threat to freedom of expression and media pluralism. Alongside the many benefits of the Internet, and its ability to connect people, there is also a growing realisation that it is a platform for amplifying more toxic forms of communication, fuelling concern for the online safety of journalists.
Furthermore, the media market grows increasingly complex with cross-media mergers and Internet giants skirting the line between being mere platforms for hosting user-generated content and becoming powerful media players themselves. The traditional economic model of ‘selling eyes to advertisers’ has largely been captured by these same platforms, undermining the sustainability of the entire news industry. Conversely, the barriers to access for creating content and reaching a wide audience have largely been lifted. But far from being an equaliser, Internet access, participation and a gap in skills continue to be a reality for certain marginalised groups.
These are just a few of the challenges borne of the monumental shifts in the media environment. Of course, the MPM has taken into account digital indicators in the past; net neutrality, freedom of expression online, internet access, digital literacy, the role of media in democratic electoral processes and digital safety of journalists. However, due to the rapid pace of change the MPM requires a fresh approach. The existing indicators, covering four main areas; basic protection, market plurality, political independence and social inclusiveness, contain variables that cover legal, economic and socio-political questions measured according to a risk scale of low, medium and high risk. As the CMPF performs further research and analysis some previous indicators may be adapted to measure traditional as well as online media and some indicators may be supplanted by more relevant or pressing issues requiring appraisal. These are the aims of the MPM2020.