Press Freedom Day 2012 – Bulgaria

The tomorrow – 3 May 2012 – is World Press Freedom Day. In Bulgaria much is to be wanted in this respect.

Ranking 80th in the Reporters without Borders 2011 press freedom index, Bulgaria took a steep drop from position 70 in 2010 and chances are that the downward slide will continue. Journalists are silenced over corporate interests of media owners, harassed by the authorities and in some cases even threatened with physical violence.

Journalists and editors increasingly have to ask permission from politicians or businessmen before publishing because if they step on someones toes they face intimidation or are threatened to lose their jobs. Owners of media organisations dictate which content gets published and which doesn’t for fear of loosing advertisers and last year the parents of a reporter who wrote a story about a local politician were harassed by the authorities.

In the absence of any regulatory body for the print media the journalists working for newspaper and magazine have no protection whatsoever. Self-censorship is the inevitable consequence. As a result, investigative journalism is practically non-existent and the quality of published material is often very low.