Rather than being only channels for communicating and representing the social realities, democratic media are a prerequisite of democracy.

In repressive regimes around the world independent journalism has been operating under pressure and in some of them has been literally wiped out. The media crisis is, however, global, with media being captured largely by corporate and political interests. The global trends of polarization and radicalization amidst the wars in Ukraine and in the Levant region are only exacerbating the problems, and so are the technological changes and dominance of large technological platforms that threaten to further diminish general interest, independent and quality content production. Hence, media activism has become more important than ever.

The report “Mobilization for Protecting the Public Interest in the Media” starts from the notion that media performance and media reforms will be determining the course of history, and that mapping good practices will help us envisage media activism that can enable the prevalence of public interest values in journalism, media, and communication in these times of crisis.

Media activism may be directed towards changes in media institutions, media policies, and media content and practices, but also towards creating alternative media, i.e. spaces that provide public interest content and promote democratic values. With that in mind, the overview of good examples of media activism that we provide in this report is aimed at inspiring more targeted and agile actions to defend public interest in the media and communication. More specifically, it is intended to inspire the creation of good Media Information Literacy practices by the coalitions of civil society organizations (CSOs), within the “Our Media”3 project and beyond.

Media activism and media and information literacy are intrinsically connected, as only media-literate citizenship is conductive to mobilization that can bring substantial media and communication reforms. The overview includes examples of media activism from the region of the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia) and Turkey, as well as from the EU countries and the rest of the world. The mapping of good practices was conducted in June– October 2023, based primarily on secondary research and, where needed, primary research, i.e. analysis of the content of online sources and information requests to media-related institutions. The research relies on inputs from the seven country researchers: Ilda Londo (Albania), Anida Sokol (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Florent Spahija (Kosovo), Milica Bogdanović (Montenegro), Vesna Nikodinoska (North Macedonia), Milica Janjatović Jovanović (Serbia) and Sinem Aydinli (Turkey).

The report “Mobilization for Protecting the Public Interest in the Media” starts with a discussion on the definitions and conceptualizations of media activism, followed by a short overview of the history of media activism. After that, we present and briefly analyze good examples of media activism, and in the concluding section we discuss the opportunities and challenges, and propose a typology of media activism. Finally, this report seeks to present good examples of media activism, including those that were successful in bringing changes of media policies and practices, but also those successful in reframing public policies and raising public awareness, harnessing wider support, involving novel topics or types of actions, or successful only insomuch as they exist as a challenge to existing policies and practices.5 We do not claim to have selected the best, most effective examples of media activism, but we aimed for diversity in terms of thematic focus, types of actions, the groups the participants belong to, geographical locus, and political context.

This publication is the result of research undertaken as part of the project “Our Media: A civil society action to generate media literacy and activism, counter polarization and promote dialogue”. The second research was conducted in the thematic framework “Mapping good practices of media activism in different regions of the world, including the beneficiary countries of the project – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey”.

The publication is available here.

The project “Our Media: A civil society action to generate media literacy and activism, counter polarisation and promote dialogue ” is jointly implemented by nine media development organizations from the Western Balkans and Turkey with the financial support of the European Union. The coordinator of the three-year project is the Foundation Mediacentar Sarajevo. Partners in the project are the Albanian Media Institute in Tirana; Bianet in Istanbul; the Macedonian Institute for Media in Skopje; the Montenegro Media Institute in Podgorica; the Novi Sad School of Journalism; the Peace Institute in Ljubljana; the Press Council of Kosovo in Pristina; and the South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM).