IGF 2023 WS #355 Sustaining Journalism: Sustaining Democracy


Human Rights & Freedoms
Internet Shutdowns
Rights to Access and Information

Organizer 1: Elena Perotti, 🔒WAN-IFRA
Organizer 2: Michael Karanicolas, 🔒
Organizer 3: Zornetta Alessia , 🔒

Speaker 1: Elena Perotti, Civil Society, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 2: Michael Karanicolas, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Courtney Radsch, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Michael Markovitz, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 5: Alan Soon, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 6: Nallu Preethi, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Michael Karanicolas, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Zornetta Alessia , Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Elena Perotti, Civil Society, Intergovernmental Organization


Round Table - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. What are the strengths, weaknesses, and tradeoffs associated with different regulatory interventions aimed at levelling the playing field between platforms and the press?
2. Are there lessons to be drawn from early regulatory interventions in this space, such as Australia's News Media Bargaining Code, which should help to inform subsequent legislative efforts?
3. What is the appropriate role for industry-led initiatives to support journalism, such as platform-led subsidy projects, and how should these interact with State-backed initiatives?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Democracies around the world face a common challenge in efforts to safeguard a vibrant digital public discourse: namely that the changing information economy makes it difficult to develop impactful public interest journalism in a sustainable way. There is a rough consensus that at least part of the problem lies in the dominant role of online platforms in the news media and advertising ecosystem, but there are stark divides on the appropriate strategy to address this problem, or whether the risks of interventions in this space (such as the threat of news media capture) outweigh potential benefits. While every national context is unique, there are lessons from where countries have succeeded or failed in addressing this problem. By sharing stories about these experiences, and in particular by sharing the best practices which can be drawn from these experiences, we hope to inform the next generation of digital media laws.



A central impact of the rise of social media has been the undermining of traditional institutions of knowledge and governance. Print and broadcast media have been particularly hard hit, as purveyors of quality journalism suffered a catastrophic drop in revenues and market share. In response, governments around the world have passed or are considering a variety of media laws which are targeted at propping up journalism through redirecting revenues from the platform economy. While these laws are often well-meaning, some have been poorly conceived, channelled vast sums of money to some of the worst purveyors of misinformation, or had other harmful unintended consequences. Other laws have yet to reveal their impact on news media, and require continued vigilance to protect media independence and sustainability.
Given the importance of journalism to democracy, governments, media organizations, and platforms face an urgent need to develop solutions to ensure that integrity in the online discourse is supported through regulatory mechanisms which help to ensure the continued viability of the fourth estate, and its ability to successfully compete in an information environment teeming with misinformation and propaganda.
This session will bring together stakeholders from governments, media organizations, civil society, academia, and the tech sector to discuss best practices in how to craft this new species of tech regulation, in order to ensure that support flows to quality digital journalism, and to avoid unintended negative consequences. It will also discuss alternatives to direct taxation and subsidies, such as through industry actions, changes to the data economy, and more.

Expected Outcomes

This session builds on a year-long program by the UCLA Institute for Technology Law and Policy which aims to support regulatory and technological solutions aimed at promoting quality information in the online discourse, including through our March Symposium on Platforms and the Press: https://itlp.law.ucla.edu/platforms-and-the-press/
In particular, our goal in taking this conversation to IGF is to introduce these issues to a broader global audience, as well as to network together the different campaigns working in this space around a set of common values and standards.
The outputs from this session will be published in early 2024 as an annex to our existing “Policy Guide to Platforms and the Press”, and used to develop the next stage of programming in this space, with a particular eye towards developing frameworks to support online information integrity that are suitable for the Global South.

Hybrid Format: A timer will be used during this session to maximize exchanges. Each speaker will have 5 minutes to introduce their perspectives during the initial phase of the agenda. Following these interventions, we intend to open the floor for discussion and Q&A. Should virtual participants seek to add a direct intervention via text, rather than directly, the online moderator will advise them, at the outset, that these interventions should be prefaced with “QUESTION:”, following which the moderator will read these interventions into the record. The raise hand function will be used to track a queue, which will be maintained by the online moderator and onsite moderator, in coordination.
Throughout the session, a collaborative document will gather records of questions, as well as comments, observations, and other remarks made during and after the workshop, so that they can be published as an annex of our existing report on "Sustaining Journalism: Sustaining Democracy".