Media Forward: Freedom House Seeks Proposals for Policy Brief Series

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Freedom House seeks proposals from both rising and experienced independent researchers, scholars, and affiliated research analysts, especially those based in Moldova, the Eastern Partnership region, and the European Union, for forward-looking briefs on the following theme:

Regulation and Self-Regulation: Two Pieces of the Puzzle for a Healthy Media Landscape

A free and vibrant press plays a vital role in upholding democratic freedoms and an open, prosperous society. The media’s ability to fulfill this role and provide the public with accurate, objective information depends on a safe, open and fair regulatory environment. Regulations must ensure that journalists can carry out their important work free from intimidation or harassment, whether verbal or physical, or from politically-motivated legal proceedings. At the same time, a system of checks and balances should be in place to also hold journalists accountable to the highest standards in terms of ethical and fact-based reporting.

In Moldova, self-regulatory agreements such as the Press Council’s Journalistic Code of Ethics contribute to ethical and professional reporting practices; however, such mechanisms depend on the commitment of outlets and journalists to enforce and are only piece of the puzzle. To ensure regulatory principles are well-balanced, responsive to the media’s needs, and enforceable, civil society and the media community work together to build a complementary system of regulation and self-regulation.

Despite the high importance of government’s regulatory role and function in supporting a healthy media sector, the Broadcasting Council – the regulatory body responsible for monitoring and ensuring freedom of expression, pluralism of opinions, and free competition – has long been criticized as dysfunctional, ineffective, and vulnerable to external influences and biases. This has contributed to a media operating environment in which politicization and bias of media institutes and coverage on behalf of vested interests has been permitted to expand, while independent journalists and critical voices are under siege by a barrage of politically-motivated lawsuits and harassment. These dysfunctions in the Council’s work were highlighted once again in the context of the November’s Presidential elections by President-elect Maia Sandu, as well as several international monitoring organizations. While critical reforms of the Broadcasting Council and other regulatory mechanisms remain unrealized, Moldovan media will continue to suffer from an inconsistent and uncertain operating framework and will have little hope of overcoming deeply-rooted challenges related to politicization and state capture of the country’s information space.

This brief would examine how current regulatory and self-regulatory frameworks in Moldova influence the health of the media sector and its ability to safeguard democratic values, with particular attention to the role and functioning of the Broadcasting Council. Competitive proposals will identify priorities for reform of existing regulatory mechanisms as well as opportunities for synergy between regulatory and self-regulatory initiatives led by the Moldovan government, civil society and media community.

Procedures:

Please submit concept proposals to [email protected] by January 25, 2021, with “Moldova Policy Briefs” in the subject line. The concept proposal should consist of an abstract of no more than 200 words, an outline of the argument and recommendations to be presented, and a CV of the principal researcher or researchers. Organizations may submit proposals for more than one brief. The priority will be given to concept proposals submitted in English.

Contracted researchers will be asked to deliver a draft of 2500-3000. The brief will be published by Freedom House, with the byline and affiliation of the scholar or researcher. An honorarium of $250 per brief is provided.

The “Media Forward” policy brief series is part of the USAID and the UK funded project “Media Enabling Democracy, Inclusion and Accountability in Moldova” (MEDIA-M) and is implemented by Freedom House, Internews and the Independent Journalism Center of Moldova.


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