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Czechia – Country Chapter


Local media


Country chapter

The corrosion of local media

In the Czech Republic, there is a concerning decline in quality journalism at the regional level, despite a strong tradition of local press. Commercial media with regional newsrooms are cutting down on the number of journalists, resulting in a shrinking space for local news. Municipal newspapers, published by municipalities, can be heavily influenced by current governing politicians in regions and municipalities, leading to censorship practices that paint a biased picture of their achievements and stifle criticism from opposition groups. This has resulted in municipal newspapers being filled with PR communication, with little emphasis on investigative or quality journalism.

To address this issue, Oživení conducted extensive research on the development of local media quality. The project involved gathering data from the 50 most populous municipalities in the country through the right to information, surveying 13 municipal newspaper editors, and organising a roundtable event with important stakeholders. This data allowed us to create a Policy paper with a precise description of the Czech municipal newspaper scene and the identification of best practices to tackle these issues. An example of best practice is appointing opposition members into editorial boards of municipality newspaper as it significantly increases plurality of opinions in the newspaper.

The journalists’ point of view

The project was enabled and funded by the National Endowment for Democracy. At the same time Oživení also conducted a related research project called The Crisis of Local Journalism in the V4 Countries and the Specific Role of Municipal Newspapers in It which focused on analysing the content of individual municipal newspapers and the local media financial support system. 

Oživení brought together journalists, publishers and media experts for a joint debate to define the biggest issues and formulate unified demands.

"It's not a newspaper, it's a PR tool, like when you get a flyer for discounts in a store. Let it exist, but don't pretend to be journalism. Plus they're picking up advertising, so they're spoiling the market for other local media that live off that"
Lenka Waschková Císařová
Head of the Department of Media Studies and Journalism at Masaryk University
Workshop with journalists, publishers, media experts in the summer of 2022

The way forward

Since the dissemination of these activities, municipality representatives (E.g. from the municipality of Kralupy nad Vltavou) have reached out to Oživení for help in establishing more transparent and independent municipal newspapers. Additionally, Oživení created an online communication channel for stakeholders, which has helped facilitate much-needed cooperation that was previously missing before the roundtable event. The perhaps greatest achievement is drawing attention and raising awareness about local media problems and the dangers they pose if unattended. The chairwoman of Oživení, Šárka Zvěřina Trunkátová, talked about the local media situation on Czech Television, a public television broadcaster in the Czech Republic.