The coronavirus pandemic has shown how important the media are – an essential tool for communication between citizens and government in the time of crisis. In the new policy paper, Matej Šimalčík and Ivana Karásková (Association for International Affairs, Prague) analyze tools which can be used to safeguard media from hostile foreign influence.
The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated that the media in democratic countries is indeed a strategic industry, as it serves as the principal means of communication between governments and citizens. Yet it is also during a crisis that hostile foreign powers can use the same channels of communication to influence narratives, spread disinformation and contribute to panic or social unrest. Hostile foreign influence to change the public discourse can be effective, as it has so far gone largely unnoticed by both European governments as well as society at large. The problem has not yet been acknowledged, quantified, and properly responded to. Legislation treating the media as a strategic industry is either missing or exists in a rudimentary form.
Protecting the media from hostile foreign influence
Matej Šimalčík is Executive Director of CEIAS. In his research, he focuses on Chinese foreign and security policy, strategic culture, territorial conflicts, and relations between China and Europe. He is a member of ChinfluenCE, a regional initative aimed at monitoring China’s economic and political influence in Central Europe, where he acts as national coordinator for Slovakia. Previously he served as a legal counsel to the Slovak branch of Transparency International.