The Davos of the Free Press #newsocracy

Threats to media plurality and the concentration of media ownership are the focus of Newsocracy 3: an event hosted by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom in Madrid on January 30th.

Who owns the media, who directs the narratives and is there full transparency of each pillar of a free press?

While the event is focused on European democracies, just twenty years ago it was America that led the way in media plurality guaranteeing that no one owner could dominate press and TV in a region. Cross-owning a newspaper and TV station in the same local market was barred.

These rules were abolished during the Clinton era, and pale when compared to the dominance of the platform players – the gatekeepers of information – that are Google, Facebook and to a similar effect Amazon and the hold on publishing (not to mention the Washington Post). Now it’s the norm in the USA for a local newspaper to have monopolistic dominance. There’s usually only one main newspaper. Gone are the plethora of voices, or the freesheets for alternative views.

In Europe, be it Hungary or Spain, or slightly further afield in Turkey;  government are increasingly part of the problem. Newsocracy looks at these pernicious erosions. The threats, violence and persecution of journalists and government influence on press at large, both latent and statute.

ECPMF brings together policy makers, academics, journalists, citizens and existing initiatives to discuss the questions of press freedom, and ownership in Spain and Europe.

The day starts with Media Pluralism: innovations and challenges.

Yolanda Quintana, General Secretary and coordinator, Plataforma en Defensa de la Libertad de Información (PDLI), is the first of four lightening talks, entitled: New Challenges for Pluralism: Internet and the new monopolies.

Renowned Turkish TV-anchor, Banu Güven will present on media ownership in Turkey, and controls on journalists. There’s a look at the success of with their new business model for Media Pluralism led by Juan Luis Sánchez, (Deputy Editor,, and there’s discussion of the role of technology plays to increase transparency in the media.

Ana Ormaechea covers “Journalism Startups and Media Pluralism in Europe, followed by a Q&A.

Session two features Chiara Sighele of  Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT), Dr Adolfo Antón Bravo from Datalab at Medialab-Prado, Marius Dragomir, Director at CEU Center for Media, Data and Society and openDemocracy  editor-in-chief Mary Fitzgerald. They are joined by Olaf Steenfadt from  Reporters without Borders and will be Investigating media ownership: best practices from Europe.

Regulation and how to taper political influence and ensure media independence come in session three.  Understanding the role of journalists, but also how policy makers at EU and national level should regulate – including public service broadcasters is the theme.

Attendees will have the chance to participate in an open discussion towards the conclusion Newsocracy, prior to closing speeches from ECPMF MD Dr Lutz Kinkel and fellow hosts Virginia P. Alonso and Pablo Soto.

Newsocracy is hosted by the ECPMF, PDLI and OBCT and takes places at Medialab-Prado, Calle de la Alameda, 15, 28014 Madrid, Spain. It’s free to attend, register here.