The Foundation for the Development of Civil Society (FDSC) mentions the Coalition for a Clean Press in the 2014 Index of Civil Society Sustainability. This index offers an estimate of civil society’s development in twenty-nine countries, including the capacity of civil society organization to sustain themselves, the legislative framework they operate in, their public image or their organizational capacity.
The Coalition for a Clean Press is mentioned in the section devoted to infrastructure, being one of the few coalitions to be expressly mentioned. This is not only a compliment to the initiative, but evidence that coalitions continue to be the most efficient tool that organizations in the civil sector can rely on to maximize their impact.
The impact of last year’s Uniţi Salvăm movement is also mentioned as a positive example, its legacy in terms of civic activism leading to higher levels of participation at local level.
“Inspired and encouraged by the large-scale protests of 2013, under the slogan of Uniţi Salvăm [United We Save], local activism grew in 2014, and small local groups became more visible. The Resource Center for Public Participation (CeRe) and the PACT Foundation continued to support mobilization of citizens at local level” – the Index of Civil Society Sustainability
Compared to previous years, improvements in sustainability and infrastructure of the civil sector can be noticed, as well as an increase in the number of organizations and active volunteers. In spite of this, the scores regarding legal framework, organizational capacity or the infrastructure if civil society organizations have remained the same, while public image, supply of services or capacity for advocacy have decreased slightly. These scores, however, do not reflect a lack of capacity on the part of civil society, but a lack of interest from the media, which rarely pays attention to civic initiatives, much less those with no political tints.
Given that news sources that expose more or less obvious interests and political orientations attract the best ratings, it is unsurprising that trust in civil society continues to decline. Civil society is therefore careful to promote the most important accomplishments of organizations, including by awarding achievements during events such as the Gala of Civil Society, where Clean Romania shared the winning stage with other organizations and initiatives such as Iaşiul Iubeşte Teii [Iaşi Loves the Tea Trees].
Thumbs-down goes, as in many other cases, to the politicians. Many have reacted to civic pressures for transparency and good governance with accusations that CSOs have been bought to serve foreign interests and instigate protests. Even so, the role of civil society in combatting and preventing abuse of power is well-known and praised even in business.
“Based on the media’s political affiliations, CSOs have sometimes become the targets of smear campaigns or even scapegoats. Private news channels that are friendly to ruling parties have had a tendency to present civil society in a negative light. (…) Politicians and public officials continue to make statements that suggest CSOs have been paid by foreign entities to organize protests, even though no evidence has ever been presented in support of such claims.” – the Index of Civil Society Sustainability