4 August 2020

The European Commission is consulting on its Democracy Action Plan (Roadmap deadline 27 August, Public Consultation deadline 15 September). Any legislation about media freedom and media pluralism must recognise the importance of newspapers.

Even before COVID-19, newsrooms across the globe were changing. Digital news consumption has become the norm, with printed newspapers under threat amidst the endless quest for more clicks. With the pandemic accelerating trends towards digital, the ever-present risk to newspapers has grown and many local newspapers have unfortunately closed or changed their offer as a result. The Guardian newspaper, for example, recently laid off 180 staff after declaring an expected £25m revenue deficit following the effects of COVID-19.

Newspapers reach the estimated 2 out of 5 people in Europe without sufficient digital skills (Eurostat), supporting inclusion. They also help to fund all-important investigative journalism (often facilitating the creation of quality, free online content...), providing necessary oversight of the world's governments, businesses and people.

We urge European policymakers to seriously consider the vital role that printed newspapers play in a pluralistic media in their upcoming Democracy Action Plan. Newspapers support democracy, public debate, media freedom and media pluralism, as well as helping to combat disinformation due to being subject to high editorial standards. They also support the broader shift to digital news consumption by ensuring that those without access to online media or devices can still access important news and information.