Big data, big dangers, small budgets: Journalism and transparency in today's Europe

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Declining levels of public trust in politics and politicians is seen as one of the main reasons behind the current wave of populism in Europe. One of the solutions frequently taken up to counter this trend is providing more government transparency. However, transparency in itself is not the objective: to hold politicians accountable for their actions, the information that is made available needs to be interpreted and analysed.

Traditionally, journalism has played the role of watchdog in our democratic systems, making sure that the public receives an objective interpretation of the information. It could be argued that in an increasingly digitalised society, with an overflow of information and a lack of objective interpretations, this role becomes even more eminent. But journalism and journalists seem to be in trouble. The advertising-driven business model does not favour in-depth investigations, and the amount of online competition is overwhelming.

The wave of journalist killings in European democracies is the latest problem, and it highlights the dangers facing media professionals probing high-level corruption and the murky interface between politics and organised crime. The European Young Leaders (EYL40) came together in Malta last September and discussed the issue – amongst others – award-winning investigative journalist and 2018 European Young Leader Bastian Obermayer.

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Led by Friends of Europe, each year the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme brings together talented, established leaders, aged 40 and under, who have made their mark in a wide range of fields such as politics, science, business, media, NGOs, the arts and civil society.  You can find more information about the programme in the EYL40 overview. The programme was originally conceived with EuropaNova.

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