Journalists associations

Another journalists’ organisation was founded by 56 members in November 2014, the Latvian Journalists’ Association. Its main objectives are: to improve the journalists’ professional environment, to defend freedom of expression and freedom of the press, to promote discussion of professional and ethical issues, to protect the professional, economic and social rights of journalists, to improve and develop media legislation, to promote and care for the professional training and growth of its members including lifelong education. The Association has more than 100 members from various types of media and academia. It plays an active role in the drafting of legislation and planning documents as well reacting to restrictions and attempts to restrict freedom of expression in Latvia and elsewhere in the world. For example, the Association supported the Hungarian media that protested against laws restricting freedom of expression in this EU Member State and it supported Estonian colleagues who protested against legal provisions restricting media freedom.

The Association also has its code of ethics and Ethics Commission that is elected by the General Assembly.

The Latvian Association of Press Publishers (LAPP), which adopted the name in April 1993, actually dates back to the period of upheaval just before the restoration of Latvia’s independence. In 1991, the Soviet regime confiscated the building where all of Latvia’s newspapers and magazines were housed and printed. Publishers came together to divide up available publishing resources, find offices for colleagues, share available amounts of paper and printing materials, etc. In February 1992, the organisation launched a ‘Week Without the Press’ to focus public and political attention on the fact that principles such as freedom of the press and freedom of speech were not being observed properly and that the economic chaos which existed in the country meant that many publications were going bankrupt.

The organisation continues to be actively involved in press-related policy issues. It is active in the media policy planning document drafting process as well as in the current discussions about the inclusion of commercial advertising in informative publications of local governments. The LAPP especially advocates the need for financial support to ensure the long-term sustainability of the written press (at least €2m annually). The idea is that institutional support would be given to newspaper operations and to ensure quality journalism as a whole on condition that the newspaper fulfils certain criteria, for example, number of full-time staff, regularity of publication, amount of original content (as in not related to other projects) etc.

The Latvian Association of Broadcasting Organisations was established in 2006. It brings together several privately owned television and radio organisations, as well as associated members. Like the publishers’ association, the Association of Broadcasting Organisations reacts actively to changes in policy and takes part in the drafting of media policy planning documents. In the last two years it has been especially active in supporting the need for the public service media to leave the commercial advertising market.

In Latvia there is also the Association of Regional Television, however, its presence in the public space and policy-making process is not so visible.