March Newsletter | Health matters: a coronavirus plan for the media

Health matters: a Coronavirus Plan for the Media

First, best wishes to all readers, for their personal and economic health!

Indeed, economic too. Crises are times to reconsider priorities and innovate faster. The Coronavirus emergency is a wake-up call for our democracies and the media sector. Indeed, disinformation is spreading – making the pandemic also an infodemic. Meanwhile, our already fragile sector is losing most of its revenues from advertising and events. Will it be bailed out, like banks during the financial crisis? Can independent journalism survive?

Fondation EURACTIV, and senior media experts and MEPs, published an Open Letter (EN, FR, DE) calling on EU institutions to speed-up policy thinking and short-term support to the media. This is about taking some costs out, providing new revenues and boosting innovation.

Processes to support these actions already exist, in addition to the European Parliament and Council. In a previous newsletter, we welcomed the new Media Project Group of Commissioners: it could now anchor the media in the overall economic recovery plan. Prepared ahead of the autumn Media Action Plan on policy rebalancing, a short-term Coronavirus Media Plan would address the revenue shortfall. Building on media members of the past High-Level Expert Group on disinformation, some key media stakeholders might be engaged online. Should this pave the way for a Media Working Group to advise the Commission?

In any case, in these times of teleworking, don’t hesitate to react or associate your name, using @FondEURACTIV and #MediaActionPlan.

Finally, Fondation EURACTIV and partners do more than policy work, media innovation continues virtually! Let’s cooperate and find solutions to this crisis. Media professionals can join the virtual Stars4Media Lab, including online interactive training sessions! (More inside the newsletter)
Best recovery wishes!

                                                        Christophe Leclercq,

THINK – Supporting media independence & sustainability in times of crisis

How to fight an infodemic (via The Lancet)
The Worl Health Organisation launched a platform to fight misinformation: ‘’We are not just fighting an epidemic; we are fighting an infodemic”, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. The coordination between public health authorities and media outlets is important to assure they don’t get ahead of evidence when providing information.

Freedom of expression and information in times of crisis (Council of Europe)
“The coronavirus pandemic is causing a public health emergency. In this time of great public concern, it is of particular importance for member States to recognise the crucial role of independent media. Freedom of expression, media independence and open deliberation are the core principles underlying European democracy which will allow us to surmount the great challenges facing our countries”.

EFJ urges politicians and media to report responsibly on Coronavirus
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) are calling on the media to report responsibly: ’We believe media and journalists’ role is to provide citizens with verified, accurate and factual reporting and avoid sensationalism that could lead to panic and fear’’. See also EFJ’s press release, highlighting good practices to protect freelancers & atypical workers: It is time to guarantee social security for all

Digital Brief: A Brave, New and Sick World (by Samuel Stolton)
Towards a Media COVID-19 Action Plan?
Media stakeholders are now calling for the Commission to bring forward their Media Action Plan, which was originally due to come out in Q4, to help ensure the sustainability of the sector.

Christophe Leclercq, Executive Chair of Fondation EURACTIV, believes that this is a critical time. “Journalists play a key role during this health crisis, to maintain trust in sound information. At the same time, media companies now lose most of their ads and event business. It’s high time to save this democracy infrastructure.” Further interested stakeholders may contact:

Managing the newsrooms and supporting quality information during COVID-19
How newsrooms around the world are tackling the COVID-19 pandemic?
Find it here, through this new WAN-IFRA’s website, providing best practices and webinars to cope with Coronavirus effects on the news publishing business.

The Coronavirus is forcing tech giants to make a risky bet on AI
COVID-19 is forcing big platforms to start using artificial intelligence for content moderating purposes, even though the tools are not ready yet and AI is still error prone. The safe use of machine learning in content moderation is still far, but the problems related to ‘physical’ moderators are growing, especially considering the dangers to which they are exposed(via The Verge)

Our contribution to the Digital Services Act (DSA) consultation
The Digital Services Act (DSA) consultation is expected to be launched soon.
Fondation EURACTIV prepared a list of 8 policy recommendations to call on policy makers to step up and use the DSA to rebalance the online ecosystem.
The fragmented media sector should come together and work on better convergence. Options are to be explored, such as a structured dialogue (by setting up a “European Media Forum”), or informal virtual meetings of the media sector.

DO – Exchange and training programme for media professionals

Stars4Media is a unique opportunity for media professionals to gain skills around data journalism, fact checking, and business development, and therefore boost their careers, and join a vibrant and resilient community of media innovators.
Check the programme and register for the virtual Stars4Media Lab (March 30th – April 1st) to benefit from training on data and trust, and develop innovative collaborations that could help to find concrete solutions to the current crisis. And don’t forget to share your ideas and seek partners on the Stars4Media LinkedIn Group!
For more info, contact

Express your interest and apply now!

Events on Media Policy and Media Innovation

Media Lab Days Copenhagen: How automation is changing the news 27 -28 February (Global Alliance for Media Innovation)
The use of AI in the media sector raises controversies. Marc Aas Nilsson, startup’s CEO, demonstrated a platform for automated reporting, saying ‘’It creates an article in 0.06 seconds – which means it’s able to produce a massive amount’’ but – he continues- the reader can see the patterns as the platform has no flair and it is strictly fact-based. But this is not the only problem: the use of AI creates ethical questions, such as if media values apply to AI.

Journalism Conferences Get Axed (via GIJN)
With its rapid spread, the coronavirus has forced postponement and cancellation of many journalism conferences. The list is growing, from the International Journalism Festival in Italy, to the Assises du Journalisme in France. WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Europe is postponed to 10-11 November 2020 (Vienna).