The media play a crucial role in the protection of human rights. They expose human rights violations and offer an arena for different voices to be heard in public discourse. Free, independent and pluralistic media are a core element of any democracy. However, the power of the media can also be misused to the extent that the very functioning of democracy is threatened. Some media outlets have been turned into propaganda megaphones for those in power. Others have been used to incite xenophobic hatred and violence against minorities and other vulnerable groups.
Now the phenomenon of social media presents us with a range of fresh challenges. Blogs, video and social networking sites have become a key forum for political debate and organization – so much so that they have provoked counter-responses from some repressive states. While there is a need to ensure better protection of personal integrity in social media, the right to freedom of expression must not be undermined.
The purpose of this publication is to contribute to a more thorough discussion on media developments and their impact on human rights in a constantly changing media landscape. Eight experts were invited to contribute their personal assessments of trends and problems. They have not shied away from addressing controversial issues or providing far-reaching suggestions. Together their texts indicate that there is a need for stronger protection of media freedom and freedom of expression in Europe today. These are clearly topics of paramount importance which demand serious public debate.