European Media Freedom Act encourages the use of JTI as benchmark for identifying reliable news media
The first European legislation on media freedom, known as the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), strengthens the right to reliable information by relying in particular on the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI), a standard and mechanism initiated and developed by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
The EMFA will encourage leading platforms such as Facebook and X to use JTI certification to identify trustworthy news media – media that comply with the highest standards regarding editorial independence, journalistic methods, ethical rules and transparency. These media will benefit from guarantees against the arbitrary moderation and deletion of their content by the very large platforms.
The final version of the EMFA – legislation that is unprecedented at the European level – was approved by the European Parliament’s committee on culture by a very large majority on 24 January, after receiving the approval of the representatives of EU Member States on 19 January. Its aims include supporting reliable online journalistic information and regulating the way platforms moderate it (article 17 and recital 33).
“Faced with information chaos and the amplification of disinformation online, and faced with public mistrust of the media, the EMFA is an important step forward in strengthening the right to reliable information by means of journalism that is worthy of the name. We are pleased that JTI certification, based on a European standard that we initiated in 2018, is now established as a benchmark. This pioneering collective work is based on an original vision that has ended up being heard. When intermediaries are eliminated in the information arena, a mechanism is needed to distinguish content created under journalistic standards– with its independence, its methodology and its ethics – from other types of content, so that the news media can enjoy democratically-based market advantages.
The EMFA, which can no longer be amended, must now be formally approved by a plenary vote in the European Parliament in March, and then by a vote in the Council of the EU.
So far, more than a thousand media outlets around the world are participants in the JTI certification process. In Europe, they include the French public television group France Télévision, the French commercial TV channel TF1, the Irish public radio and TV broadcaster RTE News and Poland’s privately-owned media group Wirtualna Polska. JTI certification is obtained after an independent external audit carried out by an accredited organisation. The US tech giant Microsoft signed a partnership with RSF in the summer of 2023 undertaking to use JTI.