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IGF 2019 – Day 2 – Estrel Saal B – DC on the Sustainability of Journalism and News Media

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Berlin, Germany, from 25 to 29 November 2019. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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>> MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. I think we're ready to start. Thank you very much for joining us this late in the afternoon on the second day of the internet governance forum. It's such a pleasure to be here. I'm Mira Milosevic. I'm the Executive Director of the Global Forum of Media Development. We represent 70 countries. We have media freedom, journalism, and media development world-wide given the role that internet plays in producing the distributing content as well as interacting with audiences and citizens world-wide, the future, overall sustainability, and even the existence of professional journalism and news media are now directly linked to the way different layers of internet are regulated and managed.

So far, this is not recognized. Media voices together with some representatives are some of the most absent actors from the policy spaces. Up until now. Even we are all meant to be inclusive and multi-stakeholder.

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Community to be engaged with the internet governance forum. We're tremendously proud to be your partner and launch today a dynamic coalition of sustainability of journalism and news media.Over the next year, we expect the dynamic coalition to be looking to regulatory debates but provide research and input and advice and all of the stakeholders to create an environment where independent journalism, media, and other credible introducers can survive and thrive.

It's with great pleasure also that I can introduce you to our four speakers today. Hossein Derakhshan is an Iranian Canadian author and media researcher as well as pioneer of broadcast and tech journalism in Iran in which he spent six years in prison until 2014. Based on the economics and political sciences in London, he spent also two years two research fellowships at the Harvard lab. He's the author of disinformation and the disinformation commission. Welcome.

We also have Dr. Courtney Radsch where she leads the governance and tech policy work. She's the author of Cyberactivism, Digital Dissidence and holds a PhD. In international relations. She's also in international communications at American university and a non- resident fellow at center for media data and the society for CEU.

We have here the head of infrastructure and head of security at OCCRP, the corruption reporting project, one of the major investigative journalism networks. He comes from a tech policy and activism background. Before joining, he's worked in the human rights area. The main policy interests include privacy and digital age, internet governance, copyright reform.

Xianhong Hu, the program specialist at UNESCO's freedom of. Her main abilities are freedom of expression on-line and offline, media development and internet governance. She's managing UNASCO's ongoing project and we could hear more about indicators on day zero about it. We'll hear Hossein and then proceed. Feel free to raise your hand if you have a specific question related to one of the interventions from our speakers. Please keep your questions short, to the point, and if you have any comments, please keep them to one minute. Hossein? Welcome to this -- our first session. And you are recently in one of your articles asked a highly personal question. If journalism cannot survive and thrive in the digital age, who will safeguard democracy. Let's hear what happened to journalism. And why do you think it needs to survive for democracy to exist?

>> Thank you for inviting me. Thank, everyone, for not sleeping now after lunch. Actually, I think they should have had some beanbags out there for people to have short power naps like the Japanese style. It's not trendy yet. Maybe in a few years.

My presentation is journalism in democracy. I would like to present my argument about why I'm saying that we have to talk about something which I call postnews journalism. Journalism is different from news. News is the output of journalism. But it's different. I'll explain how and present my argument. You can find me on twitter with the same name if you look for me and my e-mail is there.

So, briefly about my story, my very dramatic story. I started the blogging quote/unquote revolution, that's what it was called. This is the English version. I had a separate Persian one, much more popular than this one. They started it a revolution because it democratized writing for the first time in Iran and many other countries.

So, they also gave me this, I was very young and thin with lots of hair. Then I suddenly disappeared. In 2008 when I went back to Iran, I disappeared. Obviously, I knew where I was, nobody else knew, I was arrested after two weeks at my parents' house. I was kept in solitary confinement for eight months without the internet but also without anything to read or write. Interrogation was my only fun. Then I was given 20 years of sentence, which was really absurd, and eventually after six years they realized how absurd it was and I was pardoned after six years.

When I came out, I realized everything had changed on the internet. I wrote this essay about how the rich, diverse, and decentralized web that we all loved is turning into something else. I tried to theorize it using or focusing on the hyperlinks. The reason we're observing a shift on the internet is because we suppress the hyperlinks, not we -- social media platforms, for economic reasons, obviously.

We moved from the books to internet to something I call TV internet. These are the signs, the two different eras, the different discourses. But the most important among these are how it was encouraging and now how it's encouraging emotion. Think about like buttons. Imagine if they were agree buttons or trust buttons.The way they ask you to interact with them is very emotional. This is very different from the previous generation of web applications where you're only supposed to leave comments which is a rational act generally speaking. Not always.

So, it stems from a place of exposition to a place of entertainment. It's lost some of its diversity in a way but lost the nonlinearity that hyperlinks provided to an endless stream of images similar to television, even -- look at Instagram, YouTube, even though Instagram is not like YouTube where you would automatically see different videos back-to-back, but the way you swipe down, it's how you turn a television. It's endless. It's centralized, passive, inward looking, and base  -- inward looking, it's based on habit. It doesn't challenge you as much because of the algorithms who learn what you want and feed you based on that.

Three other aspects that are fascinating is how product placements on commercials, traditional models of TV business models are now, very common on the new social media platform, especially the more visual ones.

Also, the idea of primetime, if you're familiar. If you TWEET something now, no one sees it. You have to wait until 7:00, 8:00 p.m., or even 9:00, very much like television, primetime. And the celebrities are becoming the same. You know? Previously, before my prison, celebrities on the web were very different. Now they're the same. Music and cinema on TV, all the same.

So, I think it would get us to somehow back to the arguments of how television is reducing public discourse. And I think everybody should read the postman's book, again, on the damage to public discourse, because he wrote it in 1985 at the rise of television at the height of the popularity and dominance of television, which is challenged by the internet for almost 30 years and now television is back and recaptured the space that it had lost in the form of social media.

This is an amazing quote from him. Americans are no longer -- not just Americans now, everybody -- no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other, they do not exchange ideas, they exchange images.

So, we've moved on from this picture to something that we all see every day. Obviously, this is also as much a story about newspapers as much as it is about hats. For men. And it almost appeared -- disappeared for similar reasons, they disappeared. Hats disappeared because there wasn't that much space for a hat with automobiles, and you didn't need them because the automobiles are protecting people from the sun and rain.

The same almost happened in newspapers. Journalism is in crisis. Everyone knows that. These are the aspects. The circulation, you can see what a disastrous evolution it has faced. It includes digital and print. And, remember, 1941 was in the middle of the Second World War.

This is the workforce. This is also shocking. From 2017 until now, it's gotten even worse. And then the revenues. In the richest country, in the most economically viable environment for journalism in the U.S. So, is it about business models? Ethics? Or equality. The crisis of journalism. I would say, none. Because the dominant debate is either about business models, quality or ethics. I argue that it lost its cultural relevance, news lost the cultural relevance and thus nobody wants to pay for it.

The reasons -- and the argument I'm presenting and I'm making is inspired by James Kerry, media scholar, an amazing really creative media scholar who looks at communication as culture. This is his book. I encourage everybody to take a look. He looks at communication as culture and ritual. It means it's a -- it's obviously a symbolic process where realities produce, maintain, repaired, and transformed.

But it also has different aspects. One aspect or function of news has been drama. There are three, basically. So, the first one is drama. And James co-y's idea about communication as a ritual instead of as a transmission of messages is very helpful in -- in realizing and explaining this aspect of the news.

So, news is not just information, but drama. It not only described -- it doesn't describe the word but portrays an arena of dramatic focus and action. News is also functioned as a mechanism of nowness in a way. To live in the present moment. So, it provided a desire to do away from the epic, heroic, and traditional in favor of the unique original novel and news.

It also had the global aspect, the global experience. This has also been challenged, now, because when it emerged in the 18th century, the news was an historic reality, a form of culture invented by a particular class in a point of history. It wasn't a Universal thing that could happen anywhere at any time. In this case, middle class, largely, in the 18th century.

Argument I laid out in this piece in the guardian, and also in a similar piece on the median is that in all three aspects, news is being challenged by other things. It hasn't lost these aspects and these functions, obviously, but they're being challenged by other things.

So, in terms of drama, we have computer games, we have documentaries and films and twitter itself, and even some of the news channels, which are more about drama and entertainment than news. I mean, I think all cable news are like that.

And if you want to know why news channels are so dramatic and entertaining, you should look to John Fisks' work. News is by Instagram and YouTube as examples because now people can travel and see things directly themselves or see through social media. But also, we've seen a shift from the global to the local, the rise of politics, race, racial consciousness, which is the conscious aspect but also the negative aspects of the rise of religions and racism and nationalism and all that. That's the rights of the artisan products. That's also relate from the shift from the global to the local. Somehow it also the beginning or the end of globalization in some ways.

And the local news is not about municipality and local politics anymore, it's what Facebook is feeding you. It's updates about friends and family and celebrities. Because they are cousins that we don't see anymore. News is nowness. This is challenged by mobile phones. Because if you had to watch the news bulletin at a certain time or buy a newspaper that said now that's been challenged. So, they're by mobile phones or tweets and alerts and all that. Telegraph detached the time from the production of news, mobile phones have detached the distribution of news from time. You can receive anything any time anywhere. This is the reality now. No hats, more women, obviously. And phones instead of newspapers. I don't think they're news, to be honest.

This is the end of news with this definition. This specific kind of newspaper output, which was the main output of the -- of journalism. But is it the end of journalism? Not really. But we have to reinvent journalism. I would suggest obviously has James Kerry says in this book and the other, he said it is democracy. He said it is democracy, democracy is journalism because they are both public conversation. And we need, obviously, this. Because they are the same thing. In that view. The future of journalism is something I call effective narratives instead of news. This is the only type of output that's doing economically well and it's reaching millions and hundreds of millions of people or drama. This is where art meets journalism in long term narratives. Think of fiction and journalism. Think about cinema and journalism. Think about the documentary films, the success, the financial success, and other aspects of popularity, these are the documentaries you might have seen.

This is -- you might have already seen this pod cast. And even the daily has a very documentary structure now if you compare it to the other episodes and films based on facts and reporting, this one, for example, and this other old one about the FBI and painting and journalism. There are things that could be done. There's opera. This one is being done.

This is an opera called Nixon in China. I haven't seen it. But it sounds very interesting. If they are the same thing, we cannot afford allowing journalism to die if its main outputs which is the news is dying. Thank you.

[ Applause ]

>> Thank you, Hossein. I will ask questions about your other ideas and ways in which we could provide spaces in digital for journalism and immediate content providers.

But now to you, Courtney. So, we heard why journalism needs -- why the democracy needs journalism. And why journalism needs democracy. Why we need them here at the internet governance forum? Why is this discussion relevant here and now? And what are the trends you're seeing in moderating, managing, and regulating content that has implication for journalism and news media and ability from the perspectives that are discussed here at Internet can have governance can have forum.

>> Thank you, very interesting and challenging not to respond from the kind of academic perspective. But we would do well to think about journalism as distinct from other forms of content production. We are careful I'm with a committee for journalism. It's a form of communication that is realist as opposed to fictional. It aspires to the ideals of the journalistic field such as truthfulness, credibility, viability, and the public interest. Maybe that's a debate for the other time.

Going back to why are we talking about the sustainability of journalism and news media at the Internet Governance Forum? I think that it's very clear from the description of how the mechanisms by which we get our news and journalism have shifted over the time period, but that's one major reason why. Back in 2014, we hosted a session of press freedom dimensions of internet governance. We see so many decisions being made about the platforms on which we do journalism in terms of the reporting intersected around internet governance, from the legal structures to the platform revenues and we have to think about some of the important impacts of the digital con verse Janice on journalism and the effect on media sustainability, viability, and as well as the people who produce journal s, journalism who are called journalists. This is an internet governance issue because there's a significant relationship to the platforms. If you're journalism and you need to get to your audience, you need to go where your audience is. You're going to be on Facebook, twitter, YouTube, increasingly what's app is owned by Facebook and Facebook.

So, the designs of the platforms are going to affect how you do journalism. It's going to affect how you do stories, what stories do you produce. How they get disseminated. How you're able to earn revenue or not earn revenue. What are -- what the logic of journalism is completely impacted by the platforms and their platform design. Which impacts on the economic viability of news media, the economic availability of producing journalism.

One of the things that distinguishes journalism from other types of communication is that it can cost money, investigative journalism, for example, costs money. We're going to hear from the OCCRP, the reporting product in the paradise papers. That was not a cheap enterprise. It has to do with economic viability in terms of advertising and revenue. So, we can see the economic bottom completely taken out of the news media. So, we think about how the internet and platforms are governed, looking at taxation issues that has direct relevance to the journalistic endeavor. It imposes business costs and can become very risky because of algorithmic choices in terms of service that rule these platforms and the mechanisms by which the news media of journalism are able to reach their communities. And how the internet even outside of the platforms, for example, the net neutrality issues and how that impacts on the ability of news media or journalism to reach its audiences, choices around, for example, free basics and what platforms are allowed on there. So, these issues have a relationship to the sustainability of news media. Think about serving and building community, this has to do with the platforms it happens on.

Now we get to the idea that data is the new oil or the new gold. Whatever. You're -- you know, your issue du jour is. But if data is the vision of growth and the internet has created a -- we accept the idea that surveillance capitalism is one of the dominant logics of the modern era, then the news media has how they use data and how they will compete in the surveillance capital system.

Then we go to things like combatting disinformation. So, we hear policy makers, I don't know how many sessions, I probably should have counted before getting here, at this Internet Governance Forum and so many others where the governance of the internet is discuss ed has to do with disinformation and yet you rarely hear about the role of journalism. And as a colleague pointed out earlier, the asymmetry between government actors or wealthy actors who are able to buy botnets and buy social media manipulation, whether it's elected leaders as in the United States, Brazil, India, or whether you create armies as in China and Iran to manipulate social media, how are journalists supposed to compete in this information environment.

Then you have things like the safety of journalism. And the safety of journalists, which has to do with sustainability. You're going to hear more about that a little bit from the digital security side from my colleagues. If you look at the number of journalists have been imprisoned around the world it's directly related to Internet Governance. So, you have countries that come up with legislative frameworks that criminalizes false news, cybercrime bills, and lead to journalists getting in prison. More than half of the journalists imprisoned since the first, 577 were internet journalists specifically. This has a direct relationship.

If you're spending money trying to get your journalists out of prison, trying to figure out how to combat criminal defamation laws on line, you're not spending that to do the news. Metamassar is a perfect example and one of the only remaining independent news agencies in Egypt where their offices were raided by Egyptian security forces and now they're spending money to counteract the censorship of their website, get the people out of jail, instead of doing journalism which is important in a closed society.

>> MODERATOR: Can I jump in here just to ask you what do you see as other trends in policy and regulation of content on-line that are impacting directly journalism and news media?

>> Sure, so content moderation has become an enormous issue for journalism and the support industry and the press free community.

So, the impact of algorithmic choices by the platforms as well as policy choices by government. So, for example, efforts at countering violent extremism has an impact on journalism. Why? Because we see that journalism is being caught up in these efforts to filter or counteract extremism on-line. It's costly, not only in terms of money, but in lives, it's one of the most deadly and dangerous places to be a journalist. The people who put their lives on the line to bring the world news have their content taken offline because it either gets caught in precontent upload filters or it's labeled as terrorist content or because the platforms don't have enough Arabic speakers to understand what the content is about. One aspect is content removals.

We reach out by journalists who have their accounts closed or content removed and need help getting their information back up. These are the journalists who are providing a counternarrative to terrorist groups or a counternarrative to corrupt government officials. So, it's very important that you have that information on-line. And, so again, it goes to resources, it goes to time and sustainability of journalism. In time, not spending doing journalism and getting the content back up trying to deal with the latest terms of service, how to invade algorithmic shifts in the platforms, how to not have your policy makers implement new legislation that increasingly criminalizes some of these issues on-line and imposes even more harsh restrictions and punishments for on-line speech.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Courtney. There was a perfect segue to introduce Arisha here as a counternarrative to corrupt officials in organized crime. We're seeing, of course, a disruption of the business model. And we -- where the market is particularly failing as we see it is international affair, but particularly, investigative journalism. And we have heard that international crime and corruption and money laundering cases in many -- in many cases are investigated based on the investigation reporting, especially on international level.

We were also told from the colleagues that one story even in the developing country costs at least $30,000 or $40,000 Euros and very often into six figures. What are the sources of funding at the moment for investigative journalism operations as the networks as the CRP does?

>> Hello. I'm not on the business side or the journalism side, I'm on the tech side of OCCRP. I hope I can answer some of those questions. Let me give you a little bit of context. When we were talking about investigative -- when we're talking about investigative journalism story or project, we're talking about a story going on one year, two years, three years, we've had projects running for six years before we were able to publish or get the last document proving the last connection between the last two peoples or the last two companies, right? These take a lot of resources. The number is a number, but, of course, many of those investigations will cost many, many times more. So, the sources of funding, that's obviously a huge issue because, of course, we could run ads at OCRP.org, right?

But then we're running to the privacy issues of tracking our readership and all of the problems with what if we have to write about the people who are buying the ads on our website, right? Many of our member centers are relying on crowd sourcing which works well for some, in particular in Syria. The population is interested in keeping them alive. But this is a precarious position where somebody might just decide, you know, the population might at some point decide there are more important things to fund or the economic downturn will cost people not to be able to donate. Obviously, there -- a lot of journalistic organizations and this includes OCCRP, are funded by grants.

This is also complicated. This is also a -- a difficult position to be in, because, again, what if we have to write about our donors, right? Or what if we have to like donors even if they try not to interfere, there's always some kind of a maybe not pressure but suggestion or something like that. You're always beholden to your donors. In additionally, when you're running on grants, you're going from project to project. You're limited to the projects you're able to fund. And very often, you don't have funding for more general things like -- like administration or tech support or information security.

>> Speaking about tech support, we have heard from Dragan in the previous session and now Courtney reiterated the journalists including the members of your network are under attack, digital and physical. And are targeted by many malicious sectors, both on-line and offline. What kind of human resources we rarely talk about that? What kind of human resources and financial resources journalism organizations such as yours needs to be able to invest to get them in this context?

>> OCCRP is about 100, 120-people staff depending on how you count. And to provide information security and help us to these people day-to-day, we have about six -- 6 1/2 people dedicated full time to just that. To information security to help desk, to technical support. But most of this is related to information security, right? Because fixing a printer. This takes a short amount of time, restart it, right? But fixing a situation where you have to talk to a source in an oppressive regime in a way that the source will not get killed is a little more complicated requiring a lot of thought and expertise.

So, this is the substantial part of our budget, right? This is a substantial part of our budget. To put it in perspective, an engineer, a programmer at Google will be able to make about $30,000 per month. A programmer at OCCRP will not make this in a year very often.

This is a level of lack of funding we're talk about, right? There are a lot of people who want to work for NGOs for for organizations and do this kind of work even though they know they can go to other large organization, any other large companies and make many, many times more. I am one of them and I'm grateful to my colleagues who are like this. This is insane. This is unsustainable on the most basic level. While we're talking about sustainability, again, a few numbers, right? "The Washington Post" estimated the U.S. black budget, so NSA, CIA, all of those nice little three-letter agencies, $52 billion in 2013, right? Six years ago. The NSA -- the national security agency budget is estimated by "Washington Post" at 10 -- almost $11 billion. These are -- this is the money that's spent directly at figuring out ways to attack people, right? There are programmers, there are tech ys sitting there finding holes in software. Instead of telling vendors, hey, fix this and keep everyone safe, they Hord it and build attack tools to attack journalists and attack people when they want to and when they need to, right? To compare this with $93 million of U.S. cert -- so U.S. computer emergency response team. So, the organization of the U.S. that is responsible for protecting everyone, right? This is several orders of magnitude less money for that.

>> MODERATOR: So, this brings us to the next question of what policy changes are needed for the journalism perspective and the security perspective.

>> One thing I would say immediately is that funding has to -- it doesn't have go -- the funding doesn't have to immediately go to journalism -- to tech in journalism, right? It's important to bring more funding for tech in journalism and I would be very interested in that, obviously. But giving the funding to NGOs or media organizations to fix all of the problems in the toxic tech environment that we live in, because this is a toxic tech environment, is like saying, hey, you know what? Our roads are death traps, but here's some money so you can buy a better car.

This is not the way to fix it, right? The first thing to do is to fix the broader environment. And that means redirecting the money that go into organizations like NSA or CIA, to build those tools that are used to attack journalists. And I'm going to use a -- give App example of this exactly happening. Redirect it to defense and access now who has a help line, a tech help line, which is an immense ly useful resource, right? Why are they building the attack tools and then trying to defend from the tools that we've built, right?

And the example I'm going to use is -- right? This -- this man was killed probably attackers knew when he was going to be available for this thing because he was communicating with the secure tool with his friend. But his friend's phone was compromised, right? An Israeli company. Right? There's no way that I can defend people from this kind of access, because the amount of money that the NSO group has to create those tools is nowhere near. It's orders of magnitude more than I have to defend from those tools. This has to happen systematically. This has to be a systemic change.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you.

>> Can I make points about how this is related to internet governance. It's not just about funding but also the designs of the platform. If you're designing platforms, you do not have built in encryption or privacy protections, these are not governance issues. Second, the gift CT set up where it's going to be providing expertise in civil societies to the most powerful and richest tech companies in the world, the global internet forum for counterterrorism. And it's going to be seeking foundation funding. So, then news organizations and journalist protection organizations are going to be competing to subsidize from foundations the richest companies in the world, so that's kind of problematic as well.

>> The whole discussion of back dooring encryption because of quote/unquote terrorism, right? We have tools that are quite secure. Even though they have to work in this toxic tech environment. Then we hear policy makers making, you know, proposals, break them, even this little sliver of hope, take it away.

>> Moderate the content and get all of the barriers to get journalistic content out there and not to mention on-line harassment.

>> Thank you for your intervention. We have also heard an interesting presentation from a gentleman from the center of excellence. They've done research on followers and this has created a complete economic space and a big business for malicious actors on-line. And there was an estimate that only digital advertising at the moment is taking around $10 billion to $15 billion annually. We can compare that with the overall revenue that the whole journalism and media sector earns from digital. That's around $10 billion. So, if you're looking at potential business models, being a part of the malicious farming content, people don't produce any original contents but just buy likes and clicks and used bots, that's probably more profitable than being a journalist.

Yes, Mark?

>> MARK NELSON: This is Mark Nelson from the International Media Assistance. I want to bring this back around to some of the issues that were raised by Hossein at the beginning. They were very provocative and important topics that need to be taken into account as we go forward. One of the reasons we created this DC was to try to rebalance a little bit the extent to which the internet has been shaped by the trends you inspired in your talk.

Three or four years ago when I came to my first IGF, I was appalled by the lack of media at practitioner s and the engagement of the media sector in this work. The media -- the internet and the governance of the internet has not been shaped by people who care about the public interest or the fairness and treatment of pluralism and the sustaining truth and the accuracy and providing the information in the society they need to govern itself. We need to get involved in this to do that. This is the reason we're here. It's absolutely important for us to keep those things in mind because it's true that those trends you described are where we're going. But we in the 1930s, we had a terrible problem with the same kind of journalism that's been taking over lately. The yellow journalism that's not involved at all in trying to provide truthful information. And there was a regulatory response that created the fairness doctrine and other regulatory responses that the news environment and created a space for information in our society. We need to come back to some of those things and think of it in the new era, the digital era, with some of the same kinds of values that characterize our field.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you. That's one of the questions we have for our colleague from UNESCO whom we cooperate with intensively within other U.N. mechanisms but this is our first interaction formally in the IGF community. And to follow up on Mark's comments, what is it that we as a community can bring to this policy making space to impact and bring the new approaches to regulation. And what is the role especially of government bodies such as UNASCO in -- in these processes? And why do you see that it is important that we provide input?

>> Thank you so much. First, may I start by congratulating this success of the dynamic coalition. Deserves applause for this.

[ Applause ]

I have been shocked for the past 15 years since my first participation with the idea and the grace -- and also UNESCO has been the facilitator of the world summit of the youth mission society -- which end the two promote media and journalism to continue to be instruments in building information societies and knowledge societies. Bringing this to the international community, to the debates. In the past, we've seen such growing voices from the journalism from media to ship these debates on internet governance policies. That's extremely important both for journalism sustainability. And also, for the sustainability for the internet governance. -- would be dying without journalism. The one point. But you ask me about the UNESCO's role. We have been working on the declaration of human rights. Clearly 30 articles of fundamental freedoms, including one in article 19 which is theorist for UNESCO. For that purpose, we need to support a free independent plural media world-wide. That's why we'll be engaging with the media for years. At several layers. One is we're promoting the international standards to apply them to frameworks because for journalism to survive and thrive in the digital age, you need a conducive national legal and regulatory framework.

To enable you to perform your production freely. And second we support capacity building and share with the practices. You have been talking a lot about the founding advertisements, another aspect is that journalism and the media are by nature publicly interested. So, you knee to -- they should be treated like public goods. Why is the public service media has been one of the quick practice, although it's originated from Europe, duplicating this for the practice world-wide. Every democracy, every country if you want to have the strengths in democracy to have the watchdog and have a developer, you need to have this public service media and the public interest newspaper as well.

That's one -- that's the -- we need to have a balance between this so the advertising income. What we're working on. Maybe I should stop here, or do you want me to --

>> MODERATOR: We'll come back to you and other speakers. I think it's time to open the floor to questions. Please introduce yourself and also keep question s so we can hear hopefully from many people.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you -- for radio communication. We are the proud member of CFMD from Bangladesh. Media development community was missing in the internet governance from the beginning. So therefore, I would like to congratulate like you to the -- international development for? The process news media and I am pleased to introduce his excellency, a member of parliament and chairman, honorable chairman of parliament for the Bangladesh parliament and chair of the Bangladesh IGF. Media entertainment has been interrupted over the last couple of years in the internet, social media, and user delivered content, streaming like it's because before and vary other technological Bangladesh. Lots of journalists in Bangladesh loses the job very recent and the media and --

Business models have been and south Asia have been disappeared completely. What really needs is the system vulnerable for -- my question is how do you see sustainability of the media will contribute to the adverse challenges. Thank you?

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We'll ask Courtney to respond to that question later? Should we take two more comments and questions, please? Yes?

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I just have a little bit critical question, maybe, about the -- about the term public good of journalism and media. I had the impression of the -- that is a private good that is meant for the public, but it's not owned by the public as a public good. So there is a criticism -- the question is who is besides the journalist promoters that are sitting here, who else is in the position, parliamentarian, TV people, mass media, or special media people that really organize these problems in their prime time because it's their profession.

So, as -- when I say, what is the proposal to put these problems that we're discussing here in small circles, to put these problems in the real open politically active discussion.

And I have the impression that it's my personal opinion. I had the impression we had the discussion here with IGF. Nevertheless, I had the impressions that it would be even more effective to have the discussion next year. So, please don't recognize early not having just back yard side event, but make that together with a renowned journalist and media stations independent better than the others to make that a real key event in Geneva.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Did you introduce yourself?

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes, I did, Hoff -- Germany, information scientist, not journalist.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: But work for information society.

>> MODERATOR: That's fine. You have every right to comment on journalism. Any other -- yes, we have one question from the bottom of the floor?

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hello. I'm a journalist from Venezuela. I'm a fellow for the open internet for democracy program. I want to know for Hossein, what they have seen that journalists need to take actions about this of the journalism in crisis. Because probably usually the journalist crisis only for the news media. But what is the role of the journalists? What did they think that can be what are the actions? What's the new way to think that I need to prove?

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Start with Hossein and then Courtney and then --

>> HOSSEIN DERAKHSHAN: Yeah, thanks. That's a very good question. I would say obviously this is more of a structural crisis rather than an individual. Because there are many creative smart journalists who could be doing other things that could be much, much more appealing to the public if the infrastructure was prepared for them. But I mean obviously, the crisis is led to the fact that many people leave journalism, really smart people leave the area of the profession of journalism early on as soon as they start -- as soon as they create some sort of successful work resume in a way so they would go to other sectors. You end up with young people doing journalism in most parts of the world. This is increasingly the case, because you know people who would still be living with their parents could do journalism. Because they become impossible to even pay decent moderate rent as a journalist.

So, the structures have changed. And my proposal, which seems radical for journalists now, but if you actually leave the prejudice aside and see what's working, and you realize that what is working is the documentaries, the daily pod cast of "The New York Times", for example, many similar examples. Then you have to accept the reality -- I personally was very against this trend of leaving or departing from the reason-based communication to vaguely call it the emotion effect-based kind of narratives. These used to be a very reason-based kind of narrative. The fact that -- it still has to be fact-based. Otherwise it wouldn't be journalism, even if it's still effective.

But the effective narratives are what is popular. What is selling -- what is economically viable. So, my proposal is structural and about the production and about the product, the output of journalism. It's up to you how you want to represent it. If you make a documentary based on that, or even if you make a pod cast, which is much cheaper than in video documentary with a dramatic structure, it would be much more widely seen and heard and available. At the end of the day, it's a structural thing and unfortunately individuals can't do much.

>> MODERATOR: So that's one side of the coin in terms of what are you able to do in the current existing framework and existing moderation and existing incentive structure within the platform ecosystem. But what we as the DC to get back to the question from Bangladesh, what -- we as the dynamic coalition in this multi-stakeholder process can do and would like to do, Courtney, we had a good meeting on Monday during the day, zero, and we were discussing what would be some research questions, what would be some of the policy avenues. What's your take on what the role of the -- the dynamic coalitions and especially this new one is?

>> I think the role is to figure out how the structural issues that Hossein raised but are also brought up by other developments that may appear to have nothing to do with this issue actually have profound implications on journalism and the sustainability of news media and by extension democracy and governance by citizens. To that end, for example, talking about sustainability, part of the implications in what Hossein is saying is the ability to entertain and reach the large audience.

That's because the incentives built into the platforms and the importance of doing this, that's a structural choice, that's a choice on how we're choosing to integrate the internet. Not all journalism is this amazingly important investigative journalism. Or it's designed to entertain or tell long stories. It's hard for local journalism to report on that boring meeting at the school board. Or, you know, in Venezuela, for example, issues around internet shutdowns, around censor ship have profound implications.

So, I think bringing these issues to the dynamic coalition, one thing we discussed doing for the first year is thinking about pulling out some of these key internet governance issues and then elucidating what are the dimensions that have an impact on the sustainability of journalism in the news media so we can then create a plan of work. We also had some ideas about what research is needed and what kind of insights are needed to make -- what we would call evidence-based policy. But you had a comment.

>> Two short comments. The news flash about the boring meeting at the school board or anything like that, this is what investigative journalists used for their stories. This is on the weird sites, somewhere, the back -- the back end of the internet, right? You find this little story that proves a person met a person at this weird meeting or somebody like the -- something changed hands or something like that. But it's not about how important something is. We wouldn't be able to do our job as investigative journalists without those local journalists doing their job day in and day out. The second is that's great. We did all of this. We did the three-year investigation, we publish it. We cannot reach our reader base because Facebook is testing news feed in Serbia and our member center happens to be based in Serbia, right? And they – the day-to-day, they lost 40% of their readership because Facebook made a technical decision.

As you said, these are structural decisions that we have to interrogate, these are -- these are things we have to think about. And that's why this is relevant to the IGF very much.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you. We had a question about journalism as a public good. You mentioned already some experience s and best practices in terms of public service broadcasting and the model that started in Europe.What are the current ideas around public service content journalism funding in the digital sphere? And it was saying I think the same idea as well.

>> I like to talk more about this. In this forum, a lot of discussion about how to make the internet public service, public interested. I think there's a lack of awareness among the member states and the international community to know that significant journalists, what it means for the international community because what is a public good now. I think the biggest public good is sustainable development goals. I mean, now they the global consensus what to achieve. You look at 2017SDGs, how you fight for achieve in gender equality. How you combat a climate change, how you achieve education for all. And also the SDG No. 16, for the first time, I recognize the role of Universal access to information and justice.

I mean, but the journalism was not so clearly highlighted in this SDG plan and also targets, but UNESCO and many organizers, we do recognize without the professional journalism, no single goal of SDG will be ever achieved. That's why I think the global leaders and the Oasis community and the IGF, you should really recognize that journalism. That's a key stake holder. It's not just among civil society, among -- no. It is stake holder -- it's very distinct important stake holder, journalism media should be a contributor to ship as the internet. That's why our -- our research policy recommendation, but always identify what it should be, for example, this morning we announced a new publication for artificial intelligence for societies and having big challenges of internet cyberspace is being fragmented, it's being -- it's becoming -- it's called a goldfish bowl and shipped by the social media platform where we're living in a -- we're all goldfish. We feel we are -- we see the world, but it's being shipped -- by the platform.

So, we have lost the -- the media and social media platform disseminating -- but it's a pretty -- world. That's how I see the crucial role of journalism. We need the journalists to be a response, to be a solution. Don't just talk out is she dying, no, she's not dying. She really survived, to revive as a solution to resolved this feeling to look at the newspaper and look at the media. My children, the generation, they are raised and the only thing they see is a social media. That's why we need -- that's the alternative. I think there are many opportunities not to be so pessimistic.

That's why the multi-stakeholder approach is important. I think if the journalism media should stop being silos. You're independent. But you work more with other stakeholders. Some initiative like the public space is the coalition off of the digital alternative to public service media. And many media neither in the UK or in the Europe, the digital to capture the young audiences. And even artificial intelligence, it can be really used to buy our journalism first to strengthen our investigation before and rather than something on the contrary. So, I do see the opportunities for journalism to be a -- to be our digital era.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, that's a big question for digital policy if journalism is treated as a public good and if if market is failing to provide the conditions for this public good to exist, what are the policies that enable states to provide for this gap that market has created.

So, Hossein, what's your take on this?

>> Let's step back and see what the they are, and this will talk about how to innovate them. The platforms where and are, comes from the fact that they organize relations, not objects. They distribute relations, not ones. So, when it comes to Uber, none of the platforms actually own anything so they don't distribute any of these things. They institute the relations and the organized relations. When it comes to news, what they do -- Facebook, they distribute -- they basically organize the relation between users, publishers, that could be users themselves. And advertisers. But they don't own any of these things. They keep some of them on the service for some time. But they don't really own any of that material. That's why legally it's a challenge to regulate them because there's no framework for regulating relations.

So that's -- can I continue? I want to connect this, the idea of what we should do with these platforms when it comes to news, obviously, that's not an original proposal. But I think it's time for Europe, at least, because they are the most caring about this idea of -- especially another part of the world, American platforms with American platforms dominating the world, including Europe. Why not, creating their own platform but are using the infrastructure that exists in public service media already, some of them could join forces and create a publicly governed and publicly funded platform just for the news in the beginning and then they would be able to ask other people to join them as well from Canada, to other public broadcasters, and newspapers and magazines that would want to join.

And this way, the most important aspect. I have something about the algorithms but I'll tell you if you have time.

>> MODERATOR: Courtney?

>> COURTNEY RADSCH: I don't know if we responded adequately from two points of the question. One aspect is by creating a dynamic coalition like this, there's a clear entry point for local organizations from around the world and in different countries that work on these issues to engage with a very complicated process and a very complicated organization that can take a lot of resources. So that's one way we hope this will really help local organizations like yours.

>> MODERATOR: It's time to say in what ways they can engage with the coalition?

>> So, there's a mailing list. You can sign up. My -- Michael, if you raise your hand, he can put you on the mailing list. We're in the process of just putting out a charter and in the process of defining the research agenda. So, it's a great time to get involved. The second thing somebody asked about other things legislators and parliamentarians can do. I see the government of Canada in the room and I'm sure other governments are here that they have these efforts around defending freedom. Where does that governance fit on the agenda? We would welcome the ability get on to the agenda of other important venues.

As I mentioned in 2014, we did a session on freedom as the internet governance issue, but it never accepted the proposals in the interim years between now and the dynamic coalition. Now we get the set time. But part of it is to see a need and interest in this issue so that when we try to get on the agenda of the other venues, they accept our proposals, or they'll be proactive in putting that on the agenda.

Thank you, that's a good point.

>> MODERATOR: They're going to be open and supposed to be multi-stakeholder groups. So, we are inviting all of you if you're interested to join the mailing list. It's on the page of Internet Governance Forum where the dynamic coalitions are, or you can get in touch with Michael, and also, please, feel free to participate and suggest research agenda or participation in events that you think are important.

We think -- I think we have another ten minutes for questions? But just make them quick and we'll also give some brief final remarks. We have two questions there? Laura, I think you -- there is a mic here.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, I'm Laura Moore. Courtney, you raised that issue. And being here at this multi-stakeholder meeting, I would like we integrated this coalition and I think this is now the moment to maybe express the wish to take this seriously that it's a multi-stakeholder and also multi-regional and kind of context platform.

Because we talk about the sustainability of news media. And I think you know the organizations that we worked on this topic, there's few topics in sustainability that very, very much depend on the national context and the actual environment where this is taking place.

So, we often think that we know what we talk about when we talk about sustainability or viability of news. But here, I think, it is particularly important to take into account the national context and the actors that are on the ground and know what they're talking about and they then know everyday life the journalists and working in. So, I would hope for this dynamic coalition to make this also really a platform from all of the voices, from all over the world. And also, from women. My first IGF, but I've been shocked by the number of women included.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Laura. This is a great opportunity to say that we have worked closely with a couple of organizations, center of international media assistance was mentioned. Deutsche Vel Academy was also critical in this work. It represents a private media sector. Also committed to protect journalists. And we had a huge support from UNESCO and other that we work with on a daily basis.

The special -- I expect that corporation, yes, I know, we have two more questions, is that all of these organizations bring information about what is the state of journalism and sustainability of different countries around the world. That's one of the issues we will try to address is to bring more voices from what we call global south and more of the diverse voices and information about what are the priority issues for them? We have a question there? Yes, please? Can you hear me? I think now, yeah?

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: My name is Robert Sweaty, I'm a journalist from Nepal. Is it too early to make the concept on digital. Because we have to explore from the committee label because the impact of internet and practices are so diverse, so dynamic. And the experts from Nepal is -- is one for friends here, my neighbor will explain. It's just 100 kilometers away from his country and we have a totally different story. New media raised more than 200% salary of journalists in our country. Because the media house s were known for paying low salaries and now journalists have many opportunities and they can -- they have -- and they can't live in any kind, any houses, so it's putting presser for a big media organization to raise their salaries.

And other ways, kind of, you know, from our experience, there is a -- there are not only challenges, only the -- comes already. The outcry, there's no future of journalism but from the audience aspect. People have more diverse content. So, I -- I don't think we just can build out the single enemy and apply world-wide. Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you for that comment. That was absolutely true. We've seen over the last ten years there is no single silver bullet that will resolve the disruption of the business model. We are looking for potential models and for some journalism organizations, membership model will work for some forms of advertising will work, such as the native advertising, that's ethical. For some, philanthropy and donor support will work.Those are all of the aspects that do exist. But we do believe there is a need for affirmative policy action. And in some cases, regulation, especially regulation of digital marketplaces that will provide for free and open market over the years that will provide space for new entrants, who will provide maybe better service to citizens and better space for journalists to provide information. So that's one of the areas where we think there is intersection between different stake holder communities here in the internet governance forum. We also believe there's a large discussion to be had around digital advertising, including political advertising, where our community, of course, has a lot to say.

And other policy discussions that we would like to hear about from you, especially when they relate to local level such as content takedown procedures and respecting obligations of private companies to respect notice appeal and remedy procedure which is not the case at the moment with many of the platforms. Yes, Courtney?

>> COURTNEY RADSCH: I would add the issue around salaries and the economic incentives built in given the platforms and the internet and centrality to journalism means that newsrooms have to decide if they're going to hire social media experts or technical experts. They're also at the mercy of decisions around algorithmic changes when Facebook puts out a new news feed or changes of whether it makes certain things visible or not. They tested it out, for example, in 2018, I believe, they tested on Facebook some sort of a shift in the algorithm that had a huge impact of the 11 country, several of which were in southeast Asia, on the media outlets there.

So, again, the decisions about how these decisions on platforms are made, how they're communicated, have real economic impact on the news media and on journalists who have to figure out where to devote resources and how to adapt to those changes often without advanced notice.

Similarly, multilingualism is a huge issue for the internet and it's very dominated on the access to information issue related to the SDGs and the ability of local communities to access information in journalism that is important to their lives.

>> One of the ideas I've been working on when it comes to regulation is a kind of a new approach to platforms, because if you assign three layers to platforms, which is one is the code or the hard part of the platform, then the second part is the algorithms, and then the third layer is the data. So, these things are not completely separate yet.

But, if -- if data is partly separate, sort of now with the new regulations, but nobody has detached the algorithms from the platform. And the consequences of this is they have a mow notary publicly on the platforms. They imagine they would be regulated in such a way that they would have to allow third party algorithms on their platforms.

And imagine how the market mechanisms and the competition would force all these platforms to become much more transparent and look -- and think about the market that would be created for businesses that would -- that are only creating algorithms for different platforms. It's not just, you know, Facebook, think about Google maps, self-driving car, think about Amazon, imagine you would be able, for example, to choose if the third party algorithm for your own self-driving car instead of the built in by default Tesla car.

So, nobody's done it yet. And they had an attempt in Italy a few years ago when it came to iOS and apple, it was the legislation that eventually rejected but it was called device neutrality. And I would want to suggest, to reframe that as platform neutrality. This would be one that I would say a -- an angle to tackle many of these transparencies maybe many other things that we are all complaining about.

But it hasn't been looked at this way.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you.

>> These are the ongoing discussions and the question is whether or not those platforms should be required to have open protocols and talk to each other. Why do we have e-mail servers that talk to each other? My e-mail server talks to yours and we can send it across different providers, but twitter users cannot talk to Facebook users. It's not rocket surgery. It's doable. So why don't we have that? One example I will give about the algorithms. It's mastodon, kind of like twitter but open and decentralized. And every now and then, there's a rush of users from twitter to mastodon because twitter does something stupid. And every time something happens, the new users, the twitter users, the twitter refugees, let's call them, are amazed and just love one feature of Mastodon which is chronological timeline. Right?

Somehow, Twitter's super expensive magical algorithms of how the timelines should work are way worse than just showing all of the posts in a chronological order. And users before Twitter came back to the idea that timeline should be chronological, when there were Twitter refugees in Mastodon, everybody was like, wow, it's chronological. The simplest algorithm turned out to be the best. So, yeah, it's an important point that we need this algorithm transparency, but also algorithm compatibility and neutrality.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Before we wrap up, are there any comments or responses to what we just heard or any last questions? No? Oh, yes, we do. Yes. Yes. Go ahead. And the microphone there.

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah, okay. Yeah. Yeah. I'm so short. It's a really small comment. It's not worth all of this fuss. I was enjoying some of the comments in the room. I was wondering if one of the simple projects we could do is to collect the best practices and things that are working. So, you know, we talked about different ways of engaging with art. But also, maybe some of these like media -- the -- that doesn't rely on advertising, looking at what is actually working in this space and see what we can replicate. So, as I said, a simple point.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. A perfect one for a wrap-up. You heard so many issues that touch upon sustainability of journalism and news in digital spaces. They are complicated and we're new to this discussion. The challenge will be to pick and choose the simple projects, the simple contributions that will make the biggest impact. And that will make sure that we at least join the discussions that are shaping the future of internet, they're shaping the future of internet that will have open and democratic public spaces, open for independent and profession al journalism and independent and professional media.

So, please help us do that. Help us address all of these issues, strategic ly and with fewer resources, the organizations that work in this field have, especially if you come from private sector, governmental sector, please join our dynamic coalition and let's work together to address these huge issues that are facing not only journalism and media, but our democracies as well. Thank you very much for staying with us so late. We hope you will stay in touch. You have our page on the IGF dynamic coalition and we look forward to seeing you in other conferences, other events, and next year at the internet governance forum.

[ Applause ]

 

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