Media Responsibilities

Impact, role and responsibility of media companies in the society

Ekspress Grupp is the leading media group in the Baltic States. As a large company listed on the stock exchange, the Group has significant influence in the society, and thus the credibility and impeccable reputation of all group entities needs to be ensured at all times. As the key company that influences the public information space in the Baltics and is a major employer, group companies need to be managed in a responsible manner, employees need to be appreciated and motivated, customer relationships valued and the journalistic content that is created needs to be reliable and independent.

An agreement has been reached within the Group concerning the focus trends and activities embodying social impact and responsibility in which the Group has assumed a strategic role.

We wish to be:

Independent and modern content creator

- Always accessible through convenient and attractive digital information solutions
- Independent and ethical journalism
Attractive employer

- Retention and training of professional staff
- Valuing of diversity
Responsibly-managed company

- Open and honest management
- Environmentally-conscious operations
Social role model

- Supporting participatory democracy
- Raising topics of great social impact
- Increasing media wisdom
We raise important topics in the society, draw attention to them, and talk honestly and openly about them.
In my opinion, we have freedom of expression in Estonia, at least at the media companies of Ekspress Grupp. Still, there were media leaders in Estonia who thought that media should be less critical of the government in the crisis situation. I personally do not think so. Each decision is of critical importance especially during the time of the crisis. One needs to ask questions, give and explain reasons, and the press has a major role to play in it.
– Urmo Soonvald Editor-in-Chief of Delfi and Eesti Päevaleht

Our approach to
responsible journalism

Journalistic ethics starts with independence
Journalism needs to be independent and free. The work of journalists and periodicals should not be influenced by business interests, political links, personal relations or gains, bribes or any other benefits. The principles of balanced journalism are followed in all group companies. Various parties are allowed to express themselves and counter-arguments are permitted; source information needs to be always verified and if necessary, each journalist needs to ensure source protection and confidentiality. In case of sensitive topics, the line of ethics should be perceived.
Standing up for credibility, and freedom of speech
Political struggle for survival carried over from politics to the debates of the general public in 2020. Polarisation is still underway in the society, fake news spread and there are widespread views that deliberately try to disrupt both media and the society. Media constantly needs to defend itself.
Review of message boards by human moderation
In case of online publications, the use of message boards still plays a key role. The media publications of Ekspress Grupp promote the use of message boards with registered and logged in users. For removal of improper comments, human or machine moderation is used.
Media publications are often accused of crucifying people before the court has made a ruling. This characterises an environment in which we operate today – being under the avalanche of constant accusations so as to not cover certain topics. We do not see an option not the cover them, because media responsibility and role as a social supervisor is increasing. While previously we were not fully convinced in which direction media impact is heading, it is clear now that it is constantly increasing and we need to be free to do this.
- Argo Virkebau, Chairman of the Management Board of Ekspress Meedia
Theme-based (online) events with the effect of connecting people
In 2020, due to the state of emergency the events broadcast over the Internet became more important than ever. The companies of Ekspress Grupp were able to react quickly and they brought important events to the readers, such as concerts, sport series, major events and promoted them. Delfi in Latvia and Lithuania broadcast significant cultural and public events.
Paid content needs to be highlighted
Content marketing as an ever-increasing advertising format also sets requirements and restrictions for the Group’s media publications. The Group is still firmly convinced that the interests of advertising customers, content marketing and organisation of the Group’s own commercial events should not impact the journalistic content of periodicals. The line between advertising and editing should be clear and comprehensible.
Media creates value by raising important topics
Media’s responsibility is to cover relevant and problematic topics. It is also an opportunity to highlight and draw attention to the society’s sore points and key processes that need to be changed, and impact them in a positive direction.
According to the global press freedom indices, the media in the Baltic States is free – in the table of the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) for 2020, Estonia ranked 14th, Latvia 22nd and Lithuania 28th. While Latvia and Lithuania have improved their positions, Estonia has fallen by three spots. One reason outlined was the constant attacks against the press by the Estonian Conservative People’s Party that was part of the coalition at the time.
Fact-checking assumed a new meaning in the year of the crisis. At the start of the corona pandemic, there were a lot of so-called half-facts and lies, pseudoscientists and doctors popped up. The fact-checking section of Delfi grew strongly. We understood that one needs to be careful when publishing certain facts or leave them out altogether. If there is just a quarter of a lie in a sentence, we cannot publish it.
- Urmo Soonvald, Editor-in-Chief of Delfi and Eesti Päevaleht
Major topics in 2020

How we transformed the society through raising important topics

Misuse of the official car led to the discharge of a minister
Õhtuleht monitored the routes of the chauffer of the Ministry of Education in the afternoons of three random working days during a period of three months. In all of these cases, instead of giving a ride to the Minister, the chauffeur drove around her children. Due to the disclosure of the misuse of the official car, the Minister of Education Mailis Reps resigned from her position.
Read more
Theatre director was fined for sexually harassing employees
Eesti Ekspress was the first newspaper to write about how Aivar Mäe, the Director of the Estonian National Opera humiliated and harassed women in his work team. Mäe stepped down from the position and in October, the Police and Border Guard Board imposed a monetary fine on him in administrative proceedings for sexual harassment
Read more
Series of articles demonstrated movement of dirty money through Estonian banks
The series of articles “Dirty Money” in Päevaleht that highlighted how the world’s elite has moved money around. According to statistics, almost every tenth suspicious transaction passed through certain Estonian banks. The investigative editorial staff of Eesti Päevaleht and Ekspress Meedia participated in the international money laundering investigation of the press that uncovered the flip side of the global shadow economy.
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Delfi assumed the role of a watchdog in Latvia
At the time of the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, Delfi Latvia assumed the role of a watchdog in respect of the decisions about making protective gear available. In several cases, these decisions were not transparent and indicated a potential corruption risk. In addition, a series of articles was published in collaboration of the fact-checking team of Delfi Latvia and the research and education channel Campus that rebutted fake information circulating about COVID-19.
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Environmental disclosures in Lithuania
A huge scandal erupted in Lithuania in January when it turned out that the country’s largest toilet paper manufacturer Grigeo Klaipeda had directed its dirty production wastewater to the Curonian Lagoon in the Baltic Sea. Delfi found out that a few months before the company had reached an agreement with at least three companies in Klaipeda to clean its wastewater.
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Refuting fake news
The Government of Lithuania set special national measures related to the COVID-19 virus. At the same time, Delfi Lithuania launched collaboration with the social media platform Facebook to uncover fake news associated with the virus and restrict its dissemination. The Lie Detector, the special page of Delfi Lithuania publishes ca 40 articles a month to increase awareness of circulating fake news.
Read more
We understand our role in the fight against the dissemination of fake news and propaganda, and this is becoming more and more important. The outcome of all this hard work was the title of the best European lie detector assigned to Delfi Lithuania.
- Vytautas Benokraitis, CEO of Delfi Lithuania
Our rewards in 2020


In March 2020, the Estonian Association of Media Companies announced the winners of “Press Awards 2019“. It included many employees and periodicals of Ekspress Grupp.

  • The winner in the feature article category was Eero Epner with the article “Because They Can“ published in Eesti Ekspress on 8 May 2019. This article was also noticed and received recognition outside the media sector. Pärnu Women's Asylum handed out the prize Okas for the first time to recognise the people who help to prevent domestic violence. The first Okas was awarded to Eesti Ekspress journalist Eero Epner for this article that received a lot of public attention.
  • The winners in the feature article category of nationwide newspapers were Ants Nukki and Tarmo Rajamets with their article “Because They Can” published in Eesti Ekspress on 8 May 2019.
  • The winners in the visual communication category of nationwide newspapers were Eiko Ojala and Tarmo Rajamets with the illustration “Silencing of Officials” published in Eesti Ekspress on 11 December 2019.
In February 2020, the investigative press award, the Bonnier Prize, for 2019 was awarded to the journalists of Eesti Ekspress and the Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR). The winners were Sulev Vedler from Eesti Ekspress and Anna Pihl from the ERR for their coverage of the listeria topic.
At the beginning of 2020, the winners of the press photo of the Estonian Association of Press Photographers were announced.
  • The winner of the best feature photo was Priit Simson of Ekspress Meedia with the photo series “Different Kinds of Neighbours”. The photo series was made of the houses seemingly "glued" to each other in Pelgulinna district.

The winners of the 2020 the investigative press award, the Bonnier Prize were the articles published in Õhtuleht about how the Minister of Education at the time, Mailis Reps, had her children being driven around with the taxpayers’ money. The authors of the articles published in Õhtuleht are Stass Kuznetsov, Helen Mihelson, Risto Berendson and Robin Roots.


Delfi Latvia received the award for being the most loved media brand in the country and the Baltic States.

The Latvian Association of Journalists awarded the prize of the best editor for the year 2019 to the Editor-in-Chief of Delfi Latvia, Ingus Bērziņš.
The Latvian Association of Journalists awarded the prize of the best minority language content of 2019 to Rus.Delfi.

The grand multi-media project "Побег 94 / Breakout 94" dealt with the largest escape of prisoners in the Latvian history, from which 25 years had passed. The work was praised for the use of extensive sources and interactive visual elements. Within the framework of the project, the events of the escape were reconstructed together with the interactive map of the prison’s territory.


At the festive ceremony held at the National Museum of Art in Vilnius on 6 February, Delfi awarded prizes to the people for breaking stereotypes with their personal example and drawing attention to key public phenomena and events.

The Lie Detector of the Lithuanian news portal as among nine nominees that are the candidates of the best fact-checking success stories of Europe. The winner will be announced at the global virtual summit.
Ekspress Grupp Annual Report