WSIS TalkX (World Summit on the Information Society Conversations)

The Role of Information, Journalism and Media in Countering COVID-19

April 21, 2020 WSIS TalkX Season 2020 Episode 4
WSIS TalkX (World Summit on the Information Society Conversations)
The Role of Information, Journalism and Media in Countering COVID-19
Show Notes Transcript

Starting in April, the WSIS Team will host a weekly virtual WSIS TalkX the for the WSIS Stakeholders to interact, connect and collaborate. Preparing towards the WSIS Forum 2020, High-level Track Facilitators, Workshop Organizers, WSIS Prizes 2020 Champions and others will be conducting virtual interactive talks highlighting their linkages with the WSIS Action Lines and SDGs.

Join our fourth live session with Q&A on The Role of Information, Journalism and Media in Countering COVID-19

Moderator and Speakers:

  • Mr Giacomo Mazzone — Head of Institutional Relations, European Broadcasting Union (EBU)
  • Ms Rachel Pollack — WSIS Action Line Focal Point C9: Media, UNESCO
  • Mr Christophe Deloire — Secretary General, Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  • Ms Mira Milosevic — Executive Director, Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)

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Ms Gitanjali Sah — Strategy and Policy Coordinator, ITU:   0:05
Good afternoon, dear Ladies and gentlemen. Good afternoon, WSIS stakeholders. Thank you for joining us today. Our WSIS TalkX today will focus on the role of information, journalism and media encountering COVID 19. This is our fourth WSIS TalkX. I'd like to invite Giacomo Mazzone from the European Broadcasting Union to please lead this talk. Giacomo, welcome. The floor is yours.

Mr Giacomo Mazzone — Head of Institutional Relations, European Broadcasting Union (EBU):   0:34
Thank you very much. Thank you for being with us today. The topic is the Role of Information, Journalism and Media Encountering COVID 19. I am from the EBU European Broadcasting Union that is the largest association of public service broadcasters in the world. And we have with us other important speakers that you will see that have many things to say on this topic. I don't want to waste more time. So I will start with some common points that are leading all the discussions of today. The first thing what happened during this crisis for the public service and the quality media. That the first, after a long time science-based and fact-based information, became against again crucial into converting the public conversation, for the moment, for many times the news was morally more about emotions. Now the people are looking for real information. Second, the sensationalism of fake news showed the limits because people want to look for real information because it's a question of life on that. And for the first time since a long time, people want to not to listen to what they like to listen. But what is real? Let's create a favourable condition. But it's not so easy to manage. As results of this modified conversation, we have audiences or news and factual programmes that they jumped everywhere. We have done a study recently that you and you can see, for instance, this was the result in March this year compared to the previous year. The men for the news on television and radio etc. jumped by 21%. Uh, since the beginning of the year, 16% over the previous year. As EBU, we are involved in different initiatives that try to tackle this information in the physical COVID 19. For instance, we are working on the Trust News Initiative, that is made with many other big partners. BBC is leading this, but there are also the platforms that are participating, right? The is the provisional social news wire, that is a daily check of all the user-generated content, speculating on the network on Social Network to see which are the truth and which are the felt false one. And there is a journalist trust initiative, but I will not mention more because something on another of the speaker will mention it later. So, also about a part of the information, the results,  a lot of phishing. We have to be very careful in managing it because we have a problem, people try to use this crisis situation to pretend to be somebody else. There's been a lot of a wave of a fake mail phishing with the World Health Organization logo or in each country with the logo of the national health system of others pretending to be them and asking for money.  

Mr Giacomo Mazzone — Head of Institutional Relations, European Broadcasting Union (EBU):   4:05
We are distributing simple tools to journalists to help them to avoid some typical traps of communication like there's been, 10 Tips for Media and the COVID 19 in Food Emmick that has been distributed very widely. Or also the BBC has produced this very timely book about media on communicating, communicating public emergency health system.  Also, there is, ah, last initiative that they want to present you, that we are very proud of. That is an initiative for young audiences. Because one of the most for child vulnerable audience in this crisis is the young people. Because they are, they don't manage exactly what's the problem. They are not aware of the situation. They are confined at home. They're not going anymore of school. So they are in special needs. And what we do is through in exchange of best practices among our members trying to provide education or linear TV. For instance, many public service journalists which the sports channels dedicated sports channels into educational channels because the sport offering this moment is very low and they've been replaced by the school offers, and offer for the educational programs on Linear TV. The same has been made on digital platforms, so there is a high degree of interaction as possible. And then one thing that is very important that we are working on is the information about the crisis in a positive and fun way, trying to explain, especially to the smaller children what this situation is and what they have to do. And then, there are also constancies for teenagers, question and answers with the audience etc. So you see that we have done many different actions. We try to underline that is important to cooperate more and more because these experiences I shared with you are all parts of an exchange of best practices and best practices also among broadcasters, we daily exchange among us, which are the best results and which are the things that didn't work in order to improve. So multilateralism is more important than ever incorporation on an international basis, more important than ever. But I think that this will be one of the points that the Rachel Pollak, which I passed the floor, will discuss more in detail. Christophe Deloire that the Secretary-General, Reporter without Borders will be the next one, and then, Mira Milosevic, Executive Director of the Global Forum for Media Development.

Ms Rachel Pollack — WSIS Action Line Focal Point C9: Media, UNESCO:   7:08
Hello. Good afternoon. Uh, it's good to join you, Giacomo and the rest of the speakers here today. My name is Rachel Pollack, and I work at UNESCO  in the communication and information sector. As Giacomo said we fully support the important work done by public service broadcasters for quality professional reporting in the public interest and also as he mentioned the need for multilateral and also multi-stakeholder cooperation between international organizations like our own media, civil society, private sector governments and so that, that certainly applies to tackle the challenges raised by COVID 19. I'll just give a little overview of some of the areas that we're working on in the communication and information sector, specifically. You may have heard about UNESCO's work in relation to COVID on education and culture on science, that's really been tremendously important in the CI sector in my field. So it has been a range of issues that includes things that Giacomo was disgusting related to really supporting media, giving them the tools and the knowledge and skills to be able to cover a pandemic like this, because many journalists don't necessarily have a background and science, journalism or health journalism. Connected to that, more generally is the idea of providing lifesaving information and so that can, of course, include information related to the spread of the virus and public health measures. And also information provided by governments ideally proactively related to public health. So that tags and also to our work on access to information. And you may know in our sector we commemorate four international days and so one of them is the Universal Day for access to information is exactly on this issue. We have also World Press Freedom Day, which is coming up and just two weeks and which will also this year really focus on the role of media, independent media, press freedom in the context of COVID 19. We also do a lot of work on the safety of journalists. And this is also one area where we've put special attention during the crisis because journalists are facing new risks both to their physical safety, sanitary issues, but also psychological and digital security until have faced some new challenges in that realm. We have given the question that has disinformation quite a lot of focus. And so that's something that has been recognized by the WHO. There was declared in Food Emmick in February and then the Secretary-General most recently has talked about it, mis-infodemic on this is really about the circulation of false information and this can be rumours or conspiracy theories or other types of false information. And so thinking about ways to address that, and so one of them is through a quality reporting and, through fact-checking. And we also promote media and information literacy so that people will have a critical view when they see contents, especially social media content. And then there were a number of other ways private sector, tech companies that have partnered with governments and in some cases. And we will have in the next week actually two new policy papers that will be released on this issue of COVID 19 and disinformation and there are another a number of other related areas and teams that we work on, and so that includes open science open at open data. We've done work now there's a hackathon ongoing called Code the Curve. Also, a campaign called, Don't Go Viral with the idea of sharing information and encountering disinformation in Africa. So we have a number of different initiatives then, and I'd be happy to discuss them more, and also just to really salute the work that is being done by organizations like the EBU and Reporters Without Borders, GFMG. It's really for this kind of global challenge, we need everyone to come together to find solutions. Thank you.

Mr Giacomo Mazzone — Head of Institutional Relations, European Broadcasting Union (EBU):   12:06
Thank you very much. Rachel, I think that this compliment very well what I was trying to introduce at the beginning of the discussion. Is Christoph with us?

Mr Christophe Deloire — Secretary General, Reporters Without Borders (RSF):   12:18
Yes, I am with you.

Mr Giacomo Mazzone — Head of Institutional Relations, European Broadcasting Union (EBU):   12:20
Perfect. Can you give us your viewpoint on what we already discussed? Thank you very much.

Mr Christophe Deloire — Secretary General, Reporters Without Borders (RSF):   12:26
Thank you, Giacomo. And thank your Rachel for your invitation. As I'm not a native English speaker, it will be easy for me to speak slowly. Uh, just to start, some officials made recent statements that seem very positive, but that's at the same time, are also are very worried. It's about information provided by authorities, including international organizations. Those statements give the impression that only two types of actors, beyond the general public itself. First, official communication actors. Second, people who can spread these or misinformation. It is, of course, perfectly legitimate and even necessary to request from authorities from international organizations to provide true pieces of information, verified information. But the right to information to reliable information needs good journalism. It needs media to scrutinize official visions, whatever the quality of the versions. Its features, the right to information need features, features with methods, ethics, transparency, independence, the brutality of features. Journalism, we as Reporters Without Borders, we publish this morning the 2020 edition of the World Press Freedom Index. Our global indicator is a measure of the level of media freedom worldwide as deteriorated by certain persons since this major was created in 2013. Improved very slightly in 2020 next 1%. And then came to the cord Nevers Crisis. The 2020 World Press Freedom Index shows that the coming decade will be decided for the future of journalism with the COVID 19 Pandemic highlighting the mini-crisis that threatened the right of freely reported independent diverse on reliable information. But not only highlighting, amplifying the various crises. What are the crises? First, a geopolitical crisis, due to the aggressiveness of authoritarian regimes. Second, the political crisis, due to the information cows. And infodemic is a symptom. a new symptom of this information cows. A lack of democratic guarantees in digital space. Third, a democratic crisis, due to our two polarization and repressive policies, Forth, a crisis of trust, due to suspicion on even entry of the media. And then, an economic crisis impoverishing quality journalism. We launched the monitoring tool, the tracker 19 have a look at the stories that clearly proved that they are is a crackdown on major in the specific period. Even depredation of the shock entries. We clearly not need solutions, global and structural solutions addresses of causes at the appropriate scale. The initiative on Information Democracy, which was launched in 2018 by Reporters Without Borders, is key to address infodemic, which is the last symptom of the information disorder. It aims at imposing principles to digital platforms. The initiative was supported by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UNESCO director, general director Audrey Azoulay. When it was launched, we succeeded to get a signature of an international partnership of the margins of the last UN General Assembly. This partnership has now been signed by 34 countries. We have created with 10 authorities entities on information democracy. The framework is now ready. I called all potential stakeholders to join. We are working on the work plan now. We also have launched Journalism in Trust initiative in partnership with EBU. UNESCO, I have to say it was a key player in this initiative. I would like to thank both of you on those of your institutions. It aims at creating concrete incentives for middle class which comply with journalistic standards. Incentives regarding great indexation, advertising, income, et cetera. We have established a standard last December and there's the Europeans of the Education Committee and we are now entering the implementation phase. So these are solutions. They are on the table. We are in the process of implementing them. We want to work with all of you want to be of course, very inquisitive because as you mentioned, this is a multi-stakeholder approach. We need really inclusiveness to be able to build those structural on global initiatives. Thank you.

Mr Giacomo Mazzone — Head of Institutional Relations, European Broadcasting Union (EBU):   18:13
Thank you, Christophe. Very useful. I think that, as you told that the variant there are many cross-linking activities that we are doing together and I think that when the real WSIS will come, we will be able to explore which have been the concrete results of these activities. The last one that we have is, Mira Milosevic that is Executive Director of the Global Forum for Media Development.

Ms Mira Milosevic — Executive Director, Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD):   18:49
Thank you, Giacomo. Thank you, Rachel Christophe, and our ITU colleagues for organizing this event. And I will just continue to provide additional arguments for what all three of you mentioned as urgent needs. Ah, for supporting journalism and media in the middle of this COVID crisis. So Global Form for Media Developing just quickly is the network of over 200 organizations around the world, who are working to support the freedom of media freedom of expression. Journalism and news media, we all share the same values as is my colleagues who spoke earlier. What we particularly focus on is the sustainability of news and journalism. And this crisis has only increased the problems that we have seen in the past. One of the main stories that we're seeing nowadays in the western, but also in medium developing countries is that the biggest effect that COVID had that was not reported, was in care and retirement homes around the world. There was even a data point that suggested that over third of all that in Europe were reportedly recorded in ah, in care and retirement homes. This story came too late because of the period, the window of opportunity for reacting and preventing this has gone. And we're seeing this story only when we are trying to find out the true figures in facts about how many, this eased cases, unfortunately, there were. Because of the lack of local reporters, especially in local communities where were things? They're happening. We have failed to see a lot of information about this pandemic. There was a comment from one epidemiologist who said that 20 years ago when there was epidemic in some country, he would rely on reporting from local newspapers, local radio stations and local reporters to see what the trend of the pandemic in the local community of epidemic in local communities is. At the moment, this is very rare, and most of the reporting we're seeing is on the national level. We have ah seen a steady decrease in the number of professional reporters since to the economic crisis in 2008. In 2020, some reports suggest that we will see a 75% decline, of all advertising revenues globally for news media in many countries. At the moment, we don't have a sustainable revenue source for supporting journalism to support, what Christophe, Rachel and Giacomo were saying, we're all working together, to promote advocacy for a better system of financing, supporting independent journalism and media, not only recognizing the freedom restrictions but also recognizing the financial restrictions that opposed on all our information systems. What we're seeing also the second point after sustainability is the crisis of trust, of course, is even more accentuated in this in this COVID crisis. Andi. Before the crisis happened, we had a report from the mantras barometer that has shown that we have a world of children different trust realities. The growing sense of income inequality is actually also reflected in our ability to receive interpret on the trusting news. So the wealthier, more educated public is a frequent consumer of what we would call credible news, whereas less educated public with the less income and less ability to participate in public discourse is turning even today to social media. So this is something that's been confirmed by a recent study by Reuters Instituto that has been looking in a COVID coverage in Argentina, South Korea, Spain on the and the US. And finally, of course, to address all the problems that we're facing, I agree with you all of you that we need to work together, share best practices and advocate for solutions. However, it seems to me that we have reached the limits of what we called silent politics. Working in small Silas is of issues, we are most of the time in our own small community of freedom of media and freedom of expression advocates. It seems that it's time for all of us to join forces without the civil society community, with the health community, with the climate change community, with the community that's advocating also for changes in how we promote economic growth and what we consider the economical success globally. So what we're doing at Global Forum for Media Development, Of course, sharing all the information that we have from our members on best practices. We are organizing town halls and webinars, especially on issues like, um, using only angels working in a remote working environment and psychological issues, etcetera. But most importantly, we're trying to see where the problems of sustainability are, how the funding opportunities can be used at this time, but also in the midterm and long term. And finally, how can we all work together to make sure that, as Christophe says over the next ten years, we don't completely lose the ability to have professional journalism reporting, especially in disadvantage and local communities. You mentioned the shock doctrine. I just read the book from the Army Klim as well, no is not enough. There is a really fantastic proposal that they brought in Canada about how to bring all the sections of the society together to work for something that we would define as a better future. As we see response mechanisms to COVID, especially huge packages of economic recovery help, we need to make sure that this is directed towards just equal and democratic societies, and that includes the recognition of the role and space for professional journalism and media.

Mr Giacomo Mazzone — Head of Institutional Relations, European Broadcasting Union (EBU):   26:36
Thank you very much, Mira. Just before too close, I remember you that next Tuesday there is another webinar of the WSIS series on Tuesday 28 on Drones and COVID 19. A lot off issues about privacy that probably need to be discussed there. And I passed the floor to Gitanjali for the closing. Thank you very much, everybody, for your participation.

Ms Gitanjali Sah — Strategy and Policy Coordinator, ITU:   27:01
Thank you very much, Giacomo and dear panellists. Thank you, UNESCO. Rachel. Welcome to the missus family as the facilitator of the action line on media and all the best Christophe for your launch in a couple of hours. We hope to see you as Giacomo said on the 28th next Tuesday for our next talks on Drones and COVID 19. Thank you very much. Bye-bye.