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Journalism Standards and the European Convention on Human Rights after Blaja News Sp. z o.o. v. Poland

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The freedom of expression and media freedoms are of fundamental importance to a democratic society. In particular a free press is important for the effective participation of all citizens in the democratic process. Today, the press is under attack in many ways, ranging from accusations of publishing so called "fake news" to physical attacks and murders of journalists. In a The freedom of expression and media freedoms are of fundamental importance to a democratic society. In particular a free press is important for the effective participation of all citizens in the democratic process. Today, the press is under attack in many ways, ranging from accusations of publishing so called "fake news" to physical attacks and murders of journalists. In addition, the media landscape has changed dramatically in recent years and the economic pressure on many media outlets has increased. In the case of Błaja News Sp. z o.o. v. Poland, the European Court of Human Rights had the opportunity to rule on the material scope of the freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights in a case in which the publication of false information threatened to destroy the personal and professional reputation of a public official. Such a constellation is particularly relevant from the perspective of human rights of journalists as there is a risk, in the current political climate, that mere, unintentional, errors might be used by governments as a pretext for the limitation of the rights of journalists. This short essay aims at outlining the current legal situation under the European Convention on Human Rights. The author is a human rights lawyer and former journalist and has taught at universities in several European countries.


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The freedom of expression and media freedoms are of fundamental importance to a democratic society. In particular a free press is important for the effective participation of all citizens in the democratic process. Today, the press is under attack in many ways, ranging from accusations of publishing so called "fake news" to physical attacks and murders of journalists. In a The freedom of expression and media freedoms are of fundamental importance to a democratic society. In particular a free press is important for the effective participation of all citizens in the democratic process. Today, the press is under attack in many ways, ranging from accusations of publishing so called "fake news" to physical attacks and murders of journalists. In addition, the media landscape has changed dramatically in recent years and the economic pressure on many media outlets has increased. In the case of Błaja News Sp. z o.o. v. Poland, the European Court of Human Rights had the opportunity to rule on the material scope of the freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights in a case in which the publication of false information threatened to destroy the personal and professional reputation of a public official. Such a constellation is particularly relevant from the perspective of human rights of journalists as there is a risk, in the current political climate, that mere, unintentional, errors might be used by governments as a pretext for the limitation of the rights of journalists. This short essay aims at outlining the current legal situation under the European Convention on Human Rights. The author is a human rights lawyer and former journalist and has taught at universities in several European countries.

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