Media Pluralism in a digital environment

AuthorIva Nenadic - Azevedo Cunha - Elda Brogi - Mario Viola - Pier Luigi Parcu - Roberta Carlini
106 Monitoring Media Pluralism in the Digital Era
4. Media
Pluralism in
a digital
EUI - RSC - CMPF - July 2020 107
In recent years, signicant changes have occurred in the news ecosystem, including the
ways in which the news has been produced, disseminated and consumed. Technological
advancements have created new opportunities to support media freedom and media
pluralism, but have also prompted new sources of risk, including, but not limited to:
the increasing importance of private technological companies in governing commu-
nication online; the lack of transparency in algorithm driven news recommenders; the
spread and impact of disinformation; the polarisation of the public debate; and the de-
creasing sustainability of legacy news media and journalism.
ese issues are largely perceived to have had an impact on the public sphere, pluralism,
and the health of democracy and feature prominently on the agenda of public discus-
sions and of policy making, both in the EU and worldwide. However, there is still an
insucient understanding of the extent of these challenges, both on the transnational
and national level, especially taking into account the varieties in media systems. ere is
also a lack of agreement on what should be the right approach to ensure that the stand-
ards set to protect freedom of expression and media pluralism in traditional media
systems are also respected online, and whether new standards are needed.
MPM2020 introduces new topics and variables that aim to closely evaluate the con-
ditions for media pluralism online, and, in particular, with regard to online platforms
that distribute content. In this endeavour, the CMPF had to (re)dene the object of the
MPM, bearing in mind an evolving denition of the media and of the relevant (new)
players in news processes. Accordingly, the focus is no longer solely on the media, but is
extended to include all relevant actors that oer news and current aairs content to the
public and, in the end, contribute to the shaping of “public opinion.
Based on thorough research and consultations with experts and stakeholders, each of
the areas of the monitor was revised to take better account of the digital-related risks to
media pluralism. e key step in this process has been to understand the role played,
and the power held, by online platforms in the news market in ltering, framing and
delivering relevant (news) content to individual users. Although many new consider-
ations were added to the MPM questionnaire, the list is not exhaustive, as some of the
topics (for example algorithmic bias or the existence and relevance of “lter bubbles”)
were excluded, due to the lack of reliable cross-country data and studies covering all
the MPM countries that would allow for adequate assessment. e project applies a
comprehensive interdisciplinary questionnaire of 200 variables in 30 countries, and, as
such, signicantly relies on the availability of relevant and comparable data sources at
the country level. e purpose of the MPM project is, therefore, also to identify the gaps
in data availability and to urge relevant institutions, including media authorities, to start
collecting data that is relevant to understanding contemporary news environments.
Furthermore, while it is important to follow the new trends, the ‘old’ sources of risk
should not be neglected. With this in mind, the MPM aims to provide a holistic as-
sessment of the state of play of media pluralism in a given country, while extracting a
specic digital-related risk scoring. is has been a challenging task which required ne
balancing between traditional and digital sources of risk, striving not to overemphasise

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