Dynamic Coalition on the Sustainability of Journalism and News Media
Round Table - Circle - 90 Min
Introduction of the session and the DC-Sustainability
Keynote – If professional journalism can not survive and thrive in the digital age, who will safeguard democracy? What are the mechanisms that could support and sustain diverse choices and quality of information and/or journalism in digital spaces?
– Hossein Derakhshan, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Talk 1 – How do we ensure that Internet environment respects human rights, is characterised by Openness, is Accessible to all, and is governed in a Multi-stakeholder manner? What is the role of intergovernmental bodies and processes in fostering sustainable and pluralistic media ecosystems? How do we impact growing bilateral decision-making between governments and the private sector?
– Xianhong Hu, UNESCO
Talk 2 – Why is journalism and media sustainability vital for media plurality in the digital era? What are the obligations of companies, especially platforms, to introduce accountability standards when it comes to transparency, notice, and appeal (question of jurisdictions in content take-downs)? Is there legal/policy space to argue for a different treatment of professional/ethical journalism content/organisations in the platform world?
– Sofia Jaramillo Otoya, UC Irvine School of Law
Talk 3 – What is a policy framework that's needed to address implications of digital platforms’ market power on access and availability of professional journalism and reliable information online? Where is the space for freedom of expression/media development community, journalism, and news media to contribute to shaping the agenda, policies, and regulation? It will also include a presentation of the ideas that brings the DC-Sustainability's raison d’etre into focus, along with current strategies and policies that aim to address sustainability of journalism, news media, and information ecosystems.
– Courtney Radsch, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
Presentation of the DC Charter, DC Committee Members, and Roadmap for IGF 2020
As the inaugural session of our Dynamic Coalition, this session is meant to introduce the DC to the IGF community, and consider the wider impact of the digital economy on democratic societies. It will also take a critical look at both the benefits and harms of a world where global platforms are dominant distributors of news and information as well as major forums for public debate. Currently, the sector-specific approach to media regulation is inadequate. Regulatory disparities between digital platforms and heavily-regulated media businesses lead to market advantages that these platforms have (and often abuse). Additionally, many states are taking an approach to online content regulation by essentially “subcontracting censorship” to digital platforms. Thus, the time is right for addressing market mechanism- and failure-related challenges as well as regulatory and ultimately information flow challenges in digital environments. One of the biggest problems with the debates raging in government legislatures and policy circles around the world is the lack of attention given to the news, journalism, and information ecosystems, and the implications of digital platforms’ market power on access and availability of quality news content on the Internet. To foster a pluralistic media ecosystem that strengthens democratic systems, combats dis/misinformation, and produces professional, high-quality, and fact-based news, media sustainability must be considered a significant priority. Any serious effort to address the myriad problems plaguing digital platforms must include competition authorities, economists, media policy experts as well as privacy, digital rights freedom of expression advocates. Building on this context, this session will explore five key issues/questions related to digital market mechanism- and failure-related challenges, including:
- How to monitor digital platforms’ activities, their market behaviours, and the potential consequences of those activities for citizens, journalists, news media organisations, and advertisers.
- Strategies to address regulatory imbalances – i.e., what are new approaches to the regulation of digital spaces?
- How to better inform consumers/citizens of their rights when dealing with digital platforms.
- What are the mechanisms that would support and sustain choice and quality of news and journalism in digital spaces?
- Market power and behaviour of digital advertising’s two most-dominant companies, Google and Facebook, what can be done to address competition barriers, and how to promote plurality, sustainability, and diversity as well as overall consumer choices.
The session will take a holistic approach to the topic by treating each of these factors as equally important pieces of the larger puzzle of media ecosystem failure as well as the subsequent problems it creates that are currently vexing governments.
Michael Oghia, Global Forum for Media Development
Hossein Derakhshan, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Xianhong Hu, UNESCO
Sofia Jaramillo Otoya, UC Irvine School of Law
Courtney Radsch, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
Session moderator: Mira Milosevic, Global Forum for Media Development
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
Reference Document: https://bit.ly/DC-Sustainability
- How can we, as a community, more effectively monitor digital platforms’ activities, their market power and behaviours, and the potential consequences of those activities for citizens, journalists, news media organisations, and advertisers?
- What can be done to address competition barriers, and how can we promote plurality, sustainability, and diversity as well as overall consumer choices? This includes examining strategies to address regulatory imbalances – i.e., what are new approaches to the regulation of digital spaces?
- What are the mechanisms that would support and sustain choice and quality of news and journalism in digital spaces, as well as catalyse those individuals and organisations concerned with media plurality to get more engaged in Internet governance and digital policy discussions?
As this was the launch of the DC, the session mainly provided evidence for why journalism and news media have an important stake in Internet governance processes, and why voices from this sector should be more involved going forward. The discussion largely contextualised the journalism and news media's relationship with digital policy and its impact on the sector, and highlighted how various aspects such as content takedowns, safety, and digital market failures are undermining high-quality journalism around the world.
The coalition said that the media has changed with time. Like the revolution that came with the television, the media and news production and consumption were revolutionised with the rise of the global Internet. Because of digitalisation, the circulation of newspapers has dwindled. As media companies continue to adapt to digitalisation, they must continue to update their business models and find innovative ways to monetise content, but these changes threaten their focus - reporting the news. For some news and media organisations, the membership model works as an ethical means to support some forms of advertising (e.g. native advertising). Others have turned to philanthropy and donations to support their work.
The discussion also addressed issues like combatting disinformation. ‘There is an 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?’ asked Raj. Content moderation has also become an enormous issue for journalism due to the introduction of algorithms that make choices that are determined by platforms or governments, and not the journalists themselves.
Suggestions for the way forward include working across the IGF community, but especially with the other Dynamic Coalitions, to amplify journalism and news media voices in the discussion, as well as create a cohesive action plan outlining work over the coming intersessional period to identify/collate key policy recommendations that can support the sustainability of journalism and news media sustainability.
https://www.cjr.org/tow_center_reports/platforms-and-publishers-end-of-an-era.php and many others can be found at: https://gfmd.info/internet-governance
We also worked closely with the DC on Platform Responsibility this year, and plan to continue collaborating going forward.
As of the session, our charter is now officially ratified (available at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BINK564Lq4-jXnVfXAjZVJ-Mi1vRSaOu4fCZ0d79HXA/edit?ts=5dc9816f), and we are working to cement an action plan for 2020 and elect our first official co-coordinators, which will be elected by the end of 2019 for the 2020-2021 period.
Around 105 total participants, of which around half were women.
The discussion did not explicitly focus on gender, however, harassment of journalists online was identified as an important barrier to sustainability – and many of those harrassed are women.