Introduction to the enabling environment

Introduction

The enabling environment for the media is a concept that should be understood as one that discusses the material, political, legal and economic conditions and components that need to be in place for media to be free, independent and viable. A broad analysis also comprises journalistic talent, business models, understanding of audiences and structural inequalities and biases within the media landscape. Due attention is given to these issues in the other resource guides on media viability, safety, gender equality and accountability that can be found on this website.

The analysis and monitoring of the political, legal and economic pillars of the enabling environment for the media usually comprises national regulatory frameworks and media and information laws and legislation as well as the attitudes and behaviour of political actors (in its broadest sense) and audiences towards the media and journalists. These laws and regulatory frameworks derive their legitimacy from international obligations and treaties, constitutions, statutory or case law. Next to the legal and political aspects, there also economic determinants, such as the purchase power of news consumers linked to Gross Domestic Product the, investment climate and other economic factors such as opportunities and incentives for innovation that determine the conditions for media to flourish. Finally, the dominance of tech giants on the platform economy and the poly-centric governance model of the internet have become salient issues in recent discussions of media viability and enabling environment for news media.

The discussion of the pillars of the enabling environment is structured around the following topics

Definitions

An overview of terms used in this resource guide

International standards

Intergovernmental organisations on international and regional level such as the United Nations, the African Union, the Organisation of American States and the European Union have developed standards and instruments that protect freedom of expression and media freedom. These create positive obligations for member states towards its citizens and media professionals.

International mechanisms

Intergovernmental organisations on international and regional level such as the United Nations, the African Union, the Organisation of American States and the European Union have developed mechanisms such as courts, special rapporteurs and commissions, based on international and regional human rights systems. These mechanisms sometimes offer opportunities to to advocates of freedom of expression and media freedom to engage governments and hold them accountable for realising these positive obligations.