World Press Freedom Day 2024: A look at the media landscape in Australia and Greece

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This World Press Freedom Day 2024, we take a look at the current media landscape in both Australia and Greece.

Australia:

In Australia, there is yet to be any significant reforms by any level of government to improve press freedom.

Despite some positive rhetoric, the Albanese Government is yet to act on a backlog of reforms including to national security laws, freedom of information, whistle-blower protection and defamation.

Rather, a High Court ruled on 8 September 2021 that a publisher in Australia can be held responsible for defamatory comments readers leave on its Facebook pages, in a decision that could have far-reaching consequences for press freedom.

Meta in a blog post said interest in its Facebook new stab had declined by 80 per cent. Photo ABC.
A High Court ruled on 8 September 2021 that a publisher in Australia can be held responsible for defamatory comments readers leave on its Facebook pages.

In October 2022, The Greek Herald received a letter of complaint by a Sydney legal firm acting for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and Archbishop Makarios reprimanding the publication for alleged defamatory third-party comments made on its public Facebook page.

The letter stated that “while The Greek Herald itself may not have uploaded anything which is defamatory of Archbishop Makarios,” the majority of comments on the publication’s Facebook page “represent defamatory attacks against Archbishop Makarios.”

Referencing the High Court decision, the letter also suggested that alleged defamatory comments should immediately be removed and requested that The Greek Herald “closes the comments on future articles to ensure that the same does not happen again.”

the greek herald
In October 2022, The Greek Herald received a letter of complaint by a Sydney legal firm acting for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and Archbishop Makarios reprimanding the publication for alleged defamatory third-party comments made on its public Facebook page.

The Greek Herald does not condone any defamatory comments on its Facebook page whoever they may identify, and subsequently removed the comments the publication deemed to be allegedly defamatory. Comments which were considered public opinion were not removed to ensure the freedom of speech of our readers.

As evident, the High Court ruling has particular implications on freedom of the press and the public, especially for publications such as The Greek Herald which provides its readers access to journalism that remains staunchly independent, and is a platform for healthy debate on topics of interest.

Greece:

Greece is seeing the troubling results of a years-long erosion of press freedom in the country. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP via Getty Images.
Greece is seeing the troubling results of a years-long erosion of press freedom in the country. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP via Getty Images.

According to The Guardian, media freedom is declining across the European Union and “perilously close to breaking point” in several countries, including Greece.

An annual media freedom report released by the Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties) revealed Europe’s media landscape continued to be marked last year by heavy concentration of media ownership, inadequate rules on ownership transparency, and numerous threats to the independence and finances of public media.

It also documented multiple instances of threats, intimidation, surveillance and violence against journalists in several member states, as well as restrictions on freedom of expression and access to information across the bloc.

In Greece, the report said journalists faced physical attacks in 2023, while some were placed under surveillance from spyware such as Pegasus and Predator.

“Media freedom is clearly in steady decline across the EU – in many countries as a result of deliberate harm or neglect by national governments,” Eva Simon, the senior advocacy officer at Liberties, said.

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