General information about the Estonian Press Council

The Estonian Press Council was set up by the Estonian Newspaper Association in 1991. The model was taken from Finland and even the Estonian name Avaliku Sõna Nõukogu (word-by-word translation: The Council of Public Word) was borrowed from Finnish.

In April 1997, several media organizations decided to reorganize EPC on a wider basis, i.e. a non-profit organization was founded on the grounds of private agreement, made by the Newspaper Association, the Association of Broadcasters, the Journalists' Union, the Union of Media Educators and the Consumers' Union. Later, also the Network of Estonian Nonprofit Organizations, the Estonian Council of Churches and a NGO called Media Watch became the members of the non-profit organisation. The first two of the three subsequent joiners have discontinued their membership in the NGO by now.

In November-December 2001, EPC incurred a cataclysm, both organizational and conceptual. The Newspaper Association accused the chairman of mismanagement. Media educators on the other hand found that the accusations of newspapers arose from the conceptual conflict - the editors did not like criticism from EPC. As a result, the operations were temporarily cancelled for 5 months and the Newspaper Association resigned membership in the organization. After that also the broadcasters detached themselves from the conflictious situation. But EPC continues to be a self-regulatory body for those who recognize it and also provides an expert opinion about media quality for the general public.

The aims of the non-profit organisation are as follows:

  • to protect press freedom
  • to examine complaints about mass media from the aspect of good conduct
  • to support the development of journalists' professional skills (including perception of ethics) and adherence to the good tradition of journalism.

Every member-organization delegates 1-3 representatives to the Press Council. The total number of members is limited to 17, of which 7 need to represent non-media organizations. At present, there are 9 members in EPC.

  • 2 active journalists
  • 2 professors of journalism, 1 teacher of media
  • 1 person from Consumer Union
  • 1 manager from media associations
  • 1 writer
  • 1 lawyer

Usually, EPC meets once a month. The adjudications are made independently of the member organisations. For reference of activities see also statistics.

EPC participated in creating the national Code of Ethics. The Code was introduced in December 1997 by the Estonian Newspaper Association, the Association of Estonian Broadcasters and EPC. Before that adjudications were made on the basis of international professional tradition and the best knowledge of the members of EPC. At present, the Code provides a basis for assessing the cases. But as it does not cover all possible cases, EPC refers to the body of cases already considered.

EPC is mainly financed by the membership fees. Some projects have been financed by foundations and the state. The NGO employs a part-time assistant, the members attend on a voluntary basis.

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