Despite flaws in the legal system, financial issues and tensions with the government, journalists work in a relatively favourable environment. Violent verbal attacks against the media during the Covid-19 pandemic came as a shock.
The media landscape is dominated by the public broadcaster (LRT), the TV3 Group comprising 9 TV channels, 3 radio stations, and many smaller media ventures, and by LNK Group with 5 TV channels. The multitude of online media, some of which focus on investigative journalism, benefit increasingly from the attention of younger audiences.
Although relations between the government and journalists have been marked by tensions which increase with every new crisis, political attacks against journalists have recently been rare. However, the media are relatively often confronted with refusals to provide public information without explanation. Institutions of media regulation and oversight are fairly free from political influence with the exception of LRT’s board whose members are selected by the politicians.
The legal framework lacks clarity and is not always conducive to protection of journalists’ rights. It incorporates elements of self-regulation embodied by an association mandated by the legislation to address ethical issues. Its special role has been challenged by part of the profession. Courts sometimes prefer protection of private data to media freedom. The Parliament has been working on legislation to protect journalists from Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPPs).
While the media companies have been slowly recovering from the covid-19 pandemic, local journalism has been crippled by systematic lack of funding. Moreover, entering the market with a new venture is still difficult because of an intensive competition on a small market. Corruption in the media has been decreasing.
With the exception of certain conspirationist groups, journalists enjoy the respect of the society. Although there are no systematic attempts to censor quality journalism, journalists struggle with self-censorship while reporting on certain historical and gender issues.
Verbal attacks on journalists during the protests against restrictions related to the fight against coronavirus came as a shock for a country where journalists are generally not confronted with dangers to their physical security.