Newsletter: #Media4Europe in the run-up to News Media Forum: a healthier media sector
”Information is a public good. We must protect those who create transparency – the journalists. That is why today we have put forward a recommendation to give journalists better protection” stated the President of the European Commission Von der Leyen during her State of the Union 2021 Speech. Beginning October campaigning Philippines journalist Maria Ressa, now Nobel peace prize, launched a stinging attack on Facebook, saying that its algorithms “prioritise the spread of lies laced with anger and hate over facts”.
The same spirit was reflected in the keynote of President Von der Leyen colleague, the Commission VP Věra Jourová. In VP’s keynote at the #Media4Europe Conference, she stated “We [the Commission, op.a.] ask Member States to act to better protect journalists and media professionals.“, the VP added “We also call for an increased protection of journalists during demonstrations, greater online safety and particular support to female journalists.” The same line of thought was reflected during VP Jourová intervention at Médias en Seine , where Europe’s MediaLab moderated the session about fighting the fake news.
And this is not all as the Commission continues addressing the issue directly with Member States. The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) is a Europe-wide mechanism that tracks, monitors, and responds to violations of press and media freedom in Europe. It urged the Greek government to withdraw amendments that would introduce penalties for journalists found guilty of publishing “false news”. And unfortunately the situation in Poland and Hungary is not improving. However, some of the Member States seem to be listening. Slovenia’s Supreme Court ordered the Slovenian government to fund a news agency currently under pressure.
Safety is not enough: funding & jobs are equally relevant
Protecting information is as important as providing journalists with sustainable jobs, and it takes media innovation and cooperation. Continuing in her keynote the VP Jourová highlighted how, ”[…] we continue increasing our funding support and our work to bring funding opportunities together under a NEWS banner. Over the summer, we published a €7.6 million call for journalism partnerships financed for the first time through the Creative Europe programme.”
This echoes the MediaLab’s efforts to create bundled initiatives (and funding!) for the NEWS media sector. Europe’s MediaLab and partners have recently completed a strategy study on the feasibility of sharing platform(s). As of October this work will serve as blue print for MediaLab and other partners to work on the media dataspace.
Yet, funding is not the only concern of journalists and other media professionals
Trust in news matters for journalists and citizens alike. EU Disinfo Lab highlights the two latest trends in spreading disinformation. It refers first to established news brands that are actively contributing to disinformation, and secondly, to online ‘media’ outlets posing as credible sources. To mitigate these threats, the European Commission has created an expert group on disinformation and digital literacy. The European Parliament has voiced its concern about the attacks on EU media, asking for a support framework to ensure media sustainability, like a permanent EU news media fund to safeguard independence of European journalism.
Overall, encouraging things are happening in terms of EU policy and budget support, but the road to actual impact is still long ahead.
Programmes like #Stars4Media support all the media professionals, including journalists, providing them with much needed skill exchange and seed funding to develop media innovations that contribute to constructive Journalism. Innovations that for example allow users to control the duration of a podcast while exploring the personal story of Chancellor Merkel. More about this & other media innovations participating to the Stars4Media second edition here.
THINK: Media & Business
How media outlets in Ukraine turned to new funding models during the pandemic (IJNET)
Independent media outlets exist in large part thanks to advertising revenues, funding from international organizations and foundations, and services they provide, such as communication strategies and events. During the pandemic publishers were forced to turn to their readers for financial support, amid shrinking advertising revenues and uncertainty around existing clients and investors.
Le Monde «en discussion» pour racheter les parts de BuzzFeed dans HuffPost France (Offremedia) La société éditrice du Monde est «en discussion» pour racheter les parts du site américain d’information BuzzFeed dans la version française du Huffington Post (HuffPost). Déjà détenteur de 34% du HuffPost, le Groupe Le Monde deviendrait actionnaire majoritaire de ce média (85%) en rachetant les 51% de parts détenues par Buzzfeed.
Droit voisin : Le Figaro trouve un accord avec Facebook (CBN)
L’accord a été signé “dans la perspective et en soutien” de l’accord collectif en cours de négociation par l’Alliance pour la presse d’information générale, et “est lié” à cet accord général, a indiqué à l’AFP le directeur général du groupe Le Figaro, Marc Feuillée, après avoir brièvement évoqué le sujet lors du colloque “Médias en Seine”. Le Monde avait déjà annoncé la signature d’un accord sur les droits voisins avec Facebook.
Media consolidation and algorithms make Facebook a bad place for sharing local news, study finds (NiemanLab)
”The combination of local news outlets being bought out by bigger media conglomerates and the ever-present influence of social media in helping spread news seems to have created a new phenomenon, according to a new study: issues of importance to local audiences are being drowned out in favor of harder-hitting news pieces with national relevance.’’
Tech giants quietly buy up dozens of companies a year. Regulators are finally noticing (Washington Post)
While big acquisitions are subject to press scrutiny and regulatory attention, hundreds of other purchases fly under the radar because of financial market guidelines and antitrust laws, which only require companies to disclose their largest deals. Regulators are increasingly paying attention to how tech companies gobble up smaller potential competitors before they have a chance to develop enough to provide consumers with serious alternatives.
The Big Tech barons must be stopped (Spiked)
‘’Companies like Facebook or Twitter now have more power to regulate and censor public debate than any national government. Their control over the content of public discourse is without precedent in human history. This is the real problem posed by Big Tech: it monopolises and dominates the public sphere itself. Recognising this is the first step towards a meaningful public discussion of its future’’.
Opinion by David Mekkaoui, CEO of EURACTIV Media Network
EU democracy needs all voices in media
”When our consumption of news changed from traditional presses to the digital, we lost something more than just a physical newsprint in our hands. Media entered an era of emotion. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Rather than be preoccupied with seeking to avoid losing revenue to social media and battling clicks with self-proclaimed citizen journalists, it is time to reflect on the media we want for 2025”.
THINK: Media Freedom & Disinformation
La vice-présidente de la Commission européenne aux valeurs et à la transparence est revenue sur la situation des journalistes dans le monde et sur le besoin de réguler les plateformes pour lutter contre la désinformation.
Invitée à l’occasion de l’événement Médias en Seine mardi 12 octobre, la commissaire Věra Jourová a fait le point sur les priorités de Bruxelles en matière de protection des journalistes et de transparence nécessaire des plateformes numériques.
Foreign election interferences: an overview of trends and challenges (Disinfo.eu)
This research focuses on verified cases of foreign interference during elections that involved disinformation.
Albania’s declining media freedom won’t impact EU accession (EURACTIV)
Concerns include a proposed “anti-defamation package”, establishing a centralised Media and Information Agency, and aides to Prime Minister Edi Rama being put into media supervisory roles. A spokesperson for the Commission said: “The EU has strongly recommended that any possible changes to media law should be in line with Venice Commission opinion and European standards and would give rise to proper consultation with media organisations.”
Four years after murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta remains ‘hostile environment’ for journalists (PressGazette)
Golden Pen of Freedom laureates Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov awarded Nobel Peace Prize (Wan-Ifra)
“Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda. Without freedom of expression and freedom of the press, it will be difficult to successfully promote fraternity between nations, disarmament and a better world order to succeed in our time.” Nobel committee chair, Berit Reiss-Andersen.
Commission pushes for ‘timely’ update of disinformation code of practice (EURACTIV)
Facebook rolls out campaign to fight misinformation before Australian election (The Guardian)
THINK: Platforms’ regulation
GAFA targeted by both the US and EU ahead of tech and trade meeting (EURACTIV)
‘’With the US and Europe trying to restrain the growing power of American tech giants such as Alphabet’s Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.com Inc, such cooperation has become critically important for regulators on both sides of the Atlantic – and would make it harder for the US tech industry to fight new rules.’’
Google’s voice assistant in new EU antitrust investigation, MLex reports (Reuters)
Derrière la panne de Facebook, la dépendance des médias à un monopole (RFI)
”Facebook, et par extension ses applications WhatsApp et Instagram sont des relais d’information vitaux. Ce sont des « infomédiaires », des intermédiaires qui permettent aux journalistes de toucher une large partie de leurs audiences. Dans certains pays même, Facebook et WhatsApp sont devenus les principales autoroutes d’informations: les actualités vont directement à l’internaute, sans qu’il ait à les chercher.”
EXCLUSIVE Facebook to change rules on attacking public figures on its platforms (Reuters)
Facebook will now count activists and journalists as “involuntary” public figures and so increase protections against harassment and bullying targeted at these groups.
EU Must Be Speedy to Catch Tech Giants, Antitrust Watchdog Warns (Bloomberg)
Facebook putting profit before public good, says whistleblower Frances Haugen (The Guardian)
Nick Clegg, the company’s Vice President of policy and public affairs, said: “[…] But what evidence there is simply does not support the idea that Facebook, or social media more generally, is the primary cause of polarization.”
Christophe Leclercq comments: “This Nick Clegg quote is in itself fake news. Yes, social media platforms cause polarisation. Also, they had the chance from 2018 to implement the EU Code of Practice on disinformation... and didn’t. Notably not implementing trustworthiness indicators, which would favour diverse quality content over bubble-inducing clickbait.
I was on the High Level Expert Group which prepared and agreed with the platforms the preparatory report on disinformation. It mentions not just self-regulation, but _co-regulation_, ‘including the use of _competition_ policy’. Both underlined notions finally creep up again, to regulate ‘gatekeepers’. Three years too late: the EU has been naïve.
Shall we forget the Washington riots and fall for yet more legislative drafts on protecting journalists, occupying MEPs and lobbyists? Let’s already handle the gatekeepers with existing tools. And save both democracy and the media sector.’’
The Largest Autocracy on Earth (The Atlantic)
“[Facebook] swears to fight disinformation and misinformation, while misleading researchers who study these phenomena and diluting the reach of quality news on its platforms.”
Christophe Leclercq: ‘’...This is contrasting with the High Level Expert Group on Disinformation recommendations, subscribed under the Code of practice on disinformation signed by gatekeepers: exactly the reverse: diluting fake news and promoting quality content…’’
Pourquoi et comment Emmanuel Macron a décidé de s’attaquer au complotisme (L’Express)
Springer-Chef Döpfner stellt Upday-Auftrag an Facebook zur Disposition (Meedia.de)
’’Axel Springer-Chef Mathias Döpfner bereit, das Mandat der Springer eigenen und für die Auswahl von Inhalten auf Facebook News zuständigen Aggregator Upday abzugeben.’’
‘’Mathias Döpfner setzt sich für die von Presseunternehmen geforderte Zustellförderung ein. Werde hier nichts unternommen, drohten in Deutschland zeitungslose Landstriche.’’
- Here’s Who Funds the Tech Think Tanks Asking Congress to Reconsider This Whole Antitrust Thing (Gizmodo)
- Facebook doubling down on curated News Tab (Axios)
- ‘Too big to crash’ and ‘too big to care’, Facebook faces fallout from EU policymakers (EURACTIV)
- Digital Services Act: a media exemption would open a loophole for disinformation
- Inside the Facebook Papers (Wired)
- Inside the Big Facebook Leak (NYT)
- ‘HISTORY WILL NOT JUDGE US KINDLY’ (The Atlantic)
- New whistleblower claims Facebook allowed hate, illegal activity to go unchecked (Washington Post)
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