Needs and challenges of press councils in South East Europe discussed at World Press Freedom Day in Riga
The five media councils of South East Europe: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244), the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia met to discuss the initial findings of the study on the current state of self-regulation in the region. This took place during a side event organized on 2 May by UNESCO in Riga, Latvia as part of World Press Freedom Day 2015.
Early this year, UNESCO consultant Catherine Speller travelled to the region to hold meetings with representatives of the councils and with external stakeholders. Speaking of her mission, Speller explained : “although the work of media councils in the region is often discussed, it appeared that an up-to-date, detailed presentation of the councils' operations was missing. Now that this information has been collated as part of this study, it can be used to identify strategies that encourage the long-term functionality and sustainability of self-regulation in the region.”
Lack of financial sustainability combined with the reluctance of some members to accept moral sanctions and the limited participation of online media are shared concerns for press councils. The study identifies possible areas of support for the future including concrete suggestions for each press council. During the event, Speller provided the media councils and other participants from the region with an overview of the main findings, which were then discussed by the councils. Representatives from Albania and Turkey also shared their perspectives on self-regulation in their countries.
Representatives of press councils from South East Europe welcomed the discussion. Katerina Sinadinovska, from the Macedonian Council of Media Ethics – the newest of the councils - said “when discussing our challenges, we should still keep in mind the collective successes of our media councils in recent years. In spite of scarce budgets, we have undertaken many profile-raising activities for civil society, trained journalists and editors and dealt with numerous complaints. We must build on this important work in the future.” All the councils underline the need to find resources that keep them running during a time of financial crisis.
Tarja Turtia from UNESCO commented “this study could help to enhance coordination among donors and partners, particularly in the framework of UNESCO’s ongoing projects in the region”. There is an increasing interest on the part of the international community to strengthen the capacity of press councils, as part of a broader strategy to promote media freedom. The benefits of the region's self-regulatory councils have been widely recognized, including the valuable service they provide to civil society. But to succeed, they need to be effective and well-known, and there needs to be cooperation from the media. The website of UNESCO's Communication and Information Sector provides more information about the Organisation's work in this important area.
This work has been undertaken within the framework of the EU-UNESCO project “Media Accountability in South East Europe”, which started in January 2013 and encourages professional and ethical media reporting by supporting the creation and strengthening of media self-regulatory mechanisms in the region.
This came to light on May 2 during a roundtable addressed by UNESCO, Article 19 and the Global Forum for Media Development.
Speaking on behalf of UNESCO, Fackson Banda, a programme specialist based at the UN agency’s Paris headquarters, explained that UNESCO’s mandate included ensuring the ‘normative soundness’ of the goal, adding that there were already established international agreements which reflected ‘an internationally recognized and shared framework’ for realizing the projected target of SDG 16.
Banda said: ‘Goal 16, which broadly focuses on governance, includes a two-tier target on ensuring public access to information and promoting fundamental freedoms in an equally two-tier context of national legislation and international agreements’.
This point was echoed by various other speakers, including Bill Orme, who spoke as a UN representative on behalf of the GFMD – a civil society organization that represents over 200 members.
He outlined the process leading up to the proposition of the goal, expressing optimism that the UN General Assembly was on track to confirm it as one of the seventeen such goals which will replace the present Millennium Development Goals in September.
Barbora Bukovska, representing Article 19, emphasized her organisation’s commitment to continuing its advocacy for the retention of the issue of public access to information in the ongoing negotiations for SDGs.
Several participants agreed with the panelists, and called for the intensification of the campaign, both at national and international levels, to ensure that Goal 16 did not fall off the agendas of the UN Member States.
Discussions of the SDGs have now moved into a technical phase of elaborating indicators to measure the different targets suggested for the proposed goals. Indicators being proposed for Goal 16 include the presence and implementation of legal, constitutional or policy guarantees for access to information, alongside the issue of the safety of journalists.
The UN Statistical Commission, composed of national statistical offices, is leading this process, with an expert group set up to provide the more ‘technical’ advice. UN agencies, including UNESCO through its Institute for Statistics (UIS), will serve as observers.
Other participants at the roundtable included the BBC Media Action, Center for International Media Assistance, Media Rights Nigeria, Internews, International Media Support, among several others.
“First of all, we need to earn the trust of our audience”, said Cilla Benko, Director-General of Swedish Radio, adding that such trust would make it harder for politicians to “hurt” media organisations.
However, she stressed, audience trust could only come about by being truly independent and knowledgeable, enabling journalists to “ask the right questions”.
While agreeing with Benko, Yuli Ismartono of the Indonesian Tempo English Magazine, was quick to point out that, in some countries, building such trust could come at a price, including death.
A point that Musikilu Mojeed, Managing Editor of Premium Times, readily conceded was true of Nigeria where, as he put it, the quality of journalism could be affected by who owned the media.
The speakers further agreed that investigative journalism was an important indicator of journalistic quality, particularly if, as Maria Teresa Ronderos of the Open Society Foundation explained, it engaged the public in an act of “open journalism”.
As part of open journalism, she added, it was important to invest in good editors who could help contextualise information “in the sea of alternative media outlets”.
Paul Steiger, Founding Editor-in-Chief of ProPublica, agreed, emphasizing that media organisations needed the right kind of institutional culture and a diversified funding base to guarantee their independence.
The English version of the publication will be launched at the global ceremony in Riga, Latvia, and the Bahasa version is in production for a launch in Jakarta in mid-May.
“Media in support of sustainable development and a culture of peace” is a compilation of presentations delivered at the conference “Global Media Forum: the role of media in realizing the future we want for all”, co-organised by UNESCO and the government of Indonesia in Bali, during August 2014.
The publication includes a foreword by Dr Freddy Tulung, Director General of Public Information and Communications Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies, Republic of Indonesia. There is also a preface by Prof H. Arief Rachman, Indonesian National Commission to UNESCO, Ministry of Education and Culture, Indonesia.
The chapters that reflect presentations at the Global Media Forum include contributions by Naranjargal Khaskuu (Mongolia), Moez Chakchouk (Tunisia), Toby Mendel (Canada), Gwen Lister (Namibia), Maria Ressa (Philippines), and Uni Lubis (Indonesia).
Other contributions are by Prima Jesusa Quinsayas (Philippines), Edetaen Ojo (Nigeria), Ulla Carlsson (Sweden); Endy Bayuni (Indonesia), Harry Surjadi (Indonesia) and Lisa French (Australia).
These diverse views highlight how there are many kinds of media, ranging through community media, new media and social media, amongst others, and that there are many kinds of roles being played.
The contributions range from general analyses through to rich empirical case studies.
As a whole, the publication underlines the importance of press freedom if media is to actualize its full potential. A number of contributors also stress the value of investigative journalism, as well as journalism that is conflict-sensitive and gender-sensitive.
Empowering audiences, such as to be citizen journalists and to have Media and Information Literacy capacities, is a further theme in the publication. Also reflected are the issues raised about the safety of journalists and the problem that those who attack the media are doing so with impunity.
The publication resonates with the debates about media issues being reflected in the new Sustainable Development Goals currently being developed at the UN General Assembly.
It takes forward the “Bali Road Map”, which was the key outcome of the Global Media Forum, in advancing the case for mainstreaming media issues within thinking about development.
The concluding chapter states: “because media roles are so key to development, the Bali Road Map must continue as a living document into the future.”
The Beijing Platform for Action which diagnoses gender inequalities and proposes concrete actions to be taken by various actors in order to achieve equal opportunities for women and men – girls and boys – accentuates the importance of media and technology.
Each month of 2015 is designated to a theme which is related to objectives of the Beijing Platform for Action. The theme for the month of May concerns “Women and the Media” and focuses on women’s access to expression and decision-making and non-stereotypical representation in and through the media and information and communication technologies.
As a global community we all can play a role in promoting gender equality. The Internet is a massive medium of communication with over 1 trillion webpages. The homepages of your websites are like primetime news.
We invite stakeholders to participate in the “Women and the Media” campaign by featuring the images of women at all levels of society on your homepage during the month of May.
- Write a clear and simple caption for the image
- Link a strong paragraph to the image describing the person selected
- Keep your chosen image above the scroll (on the upper half of the homepage)
- Add “share” buttons to it
- Tell UNESCO about your actions by completing this short form.
For more information please view the official flier for the campaign. Please help to circulate the flier on the Internet.
The theme for June will be “Women and Conflict”. Please keep your eyes on our website for more information.
It has been fifteen years since UNESCO launched Women Make the News initiative and the twenty years since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action
Women Make the News is a global online awareness raising and policy advocacy initiative aimed at drawing attention issues of gender equality in and through the media, driving debate, and encouraging action-oriented solutions until global objectives are met.
The idea for the special commemorative stamp came out during the planning process of main event of the World Press Freedom Day which will take place in Riga, Latvia from 2 to 4 May at the new National Library. Each year, UNESCO leads the international celebration of World Press Freedom Day with a main event as well as setting the global thematic. This year’s theme is “Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, and Media Safety in the Digital Age”.
Known for their high artistic quality, the Latvian Post designed and produced the commemorative postage stamps. The stamps will be officially unveiled on 3 May (Sunday) and be presented to the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova who will be in Riga, Latvia during the opening session of the main event.
The “Freedom of Speech” stamp and enveloped are designed by Mr Ludis Danilāns. The basic price of the first day cover (the stamp with its first day envelope) is 0,57 € and approximately 100,000 stamps will be made available beginning from 10:00 am on 3 May 2015 at the Post Office Origo Stacijas laukumā 2, Rīgā.
To find out more about the “Freedom of Speech” stamp, please contact: The Philatelic Department of the Latvian Postal Service (Ziemeļu ielā 10, Mārupes pag., LV-1000 ; e-mail: infofil(at)pasts.lv)
The 45 experts, from 17 countries, representing memory institutions from countries, the IT community and the academia, explored the establishment of a multi-stakeholder platform for the discussion of digitization practices, digital heritage selection policies, standardization and digital heritage preservation involving all relevant stakeholders.
In his welcome remarks, the Director of the Knowledge Societies Division, Mr Indrajit Banerjee, stressed that “The issue of long term preservation and accessibility of digital heritage is a professional issue for all those involved in the creation, dissemination and management of knowledge to make sure that the information they deal with can be available for future generations.” He emphasized that “It is also a development issue for the society to guarantee that the accumulated knowledge could be utilized in the future to promote further progress”.
At the opening session, Ms Chafica Hadad, Chair of the intergovernmental Council of the Information for All Programme (IFAP), pointed out that one of the major objectives of IFAP is “to promote and widen access to information in the public domain through the organization, digitization and preservation of information, as well as to promote the use of international standards and best practices at local, national, regional and international levels.”
UNESCO launched the PERSIST Project in order to foster a high-level policy dialogue among heritage institutions, governments and ICT-industry on digital heritage preservation under the aegis of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme. In order to achieve this objective, participants first took stock of various digital preservation activities underway, reviewed existing selection policies for digital heritage and discussed potential solution-oriented approaches to long term digital preservation, towards establishment of a Global Repository for Heritage Software with relevant ICT industry partners. The experts worked in three working groups, namely a Content Task Force, a Technology Task Force and a Policy Task Force.
The Technology Task Force discussed the complexities of the digital environment including the vulnerability of digital documentary heritage to loss and destruction because of it being stored on fragile magnetic and optical media that deteriorate rapidly and that can fail easily from exposure to heat, humidity, or faulty reading and writing devices. Unlike the situation that applies to books, digital archiving requires relatively frequent investments to overcome rapid obsolescence introduced by technological change. In response to all these, the task force developed the concept of the Global Repository which is conceived as part of the gap analysis that highlighted the need to preserve software alongside the content. The Technology Task Force has therefore embarked onto a mission to create an international bank of legacy software.
The Content Task Force debated the issues related to selection of digital content for long term digital preservation which is one of the pressing issues currently faced by heritage institutions. Out of the massive amount of content available in a digital format, it has to be evaluated what needs to be preserved for future generations. Up to now there is no decisive method for selecting digital content and heritage institutions need to rethink their selection criteria from an analogue method to a digital one. In order to help public memory institutions with the emerging and ever changing environment and the resulting challenges, the Content task force will develop a set of Guidelines for the selection of digital heritage for long term preservation which will give institutions from all domains (Library, Archive and Museum) a starting point to thinking about their digital selection policy for long term access.
The Policy Task Force - Through its standard setting function, UNESCO aims to assist its Member States in formulating appropriate policies for effective management of their digital heritage. It is in this context that the Policy Task force discussed issues related to existing standards, policies and sustainability. The benefits of having a digital preservation policy in place include assisting with planning of a coherent digital preservation program and publicly indicating that the organization is serious about digital preservation. A digital preservation policy also states the mandate for an archive to support the preservation of digital records through a structured and managed digital preservation strategy. The policy details why selected material needs to be preserved; the strategy defines how this will be implemented.
Both the policy and the strategy are essential to ensure there is a verifiable and trusted means of preserving the integrity of digital records. The digital preservation policy also needs to identify how other policies such as the acquisition or collection policy should be applied to the collection and management of digital records the archives and libraries seek to preserve.
In the following months, UNESCO will continue its cooperation with ICA, IFLA, LIBER, Microsoft and other relevant partners to continue and intensify the work on development of solution-oriented approaches in the area of digital preservation through its three task forces.
UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Programme in 1992 to guard against collective amnesia calling upon the preservation of the valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world ensuring their wide dissemination. The Programme vision is that the world's documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and, with due recognition of cultural mores and practicalities, should be permanently accessible to all without hindrance. The Programme is thus intended to protect documentary heritage, and to help networks of experts to exchange information and raise resources for the preservation of, and the access to, documentary and archival collections of valuable records.
This specialized capacity-building forum organized in July 2013 in Kampala, in concert with the United Nations University (UNU) and the Government of Uganda was targeted to meet the needs of executive senior civil servants charged with directing current and future national e-governance initiatives in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, as well host country Uganda. The one week-long training event sought to enhance the role of e-governance initiatives in the effectiveness of national policy implementation and the delivery of public services to citizens. In particular, the programme emphasized how the goal of building of knowledge societies could be more effectively integrated into ongoing and future national information and e-governance initiatives. In this regard, officials were introduced and sensitized to the contribution that the IFAP National Information Society Policy Template could provide in the development, review and implementation of national information and knowledge societies policies.
The first South Sudan Information Communication Technology for Development Conference, held in Juba from 25 to 27 February, 2015 provided a launching pad for the practical application of the IFAP National Information Society Policy Template into South Sudan’s national policy planning processes. The IFAP Policy Template provided the framework for structuring this intensive three-day national and international co-operation, policy and partnerships building event which aims to support the creation of inclusive Knowledge Societies in the newly formed nation. Drawing on the experiences of other nations and regions, but fully focused on South Sudan’s specific context and needs, the IFAP Template provided a methodological framework around which appropriate, comprehensive, forward-looking and sustainable ICT strategies that align with vision of its national development plan and poverty reduction strategy can be developed. Government ministries, institutions and parastatals involved in public service delivery, vocalized keen interest in mainstreaming the IFAP National Information Society Policy Template in national planning processes.
Similar reactions were also observed by Mr Jaco Du Toit, UNESCO’s Advisor for Communication and Information (ACI) in the Nairobi Regional Office during a recent mission to Djibouti where he presented the IFAP Policy Template to Governmental officials. According to Mr Du Toit, “The government of Djibouti welcomed the IFAP Template as a key tool for developing a national roadmap to implement a Strategic Programme for the development of Information Technology in Djibouti. Not only did they view the IFAP Policy Template as a means to elaborate interventions and attract national and international partners in addressing the challenges of ICTs in Djibouti, but also as a key resource for sensitizing civil servants to the importance of ICT in public administration”.
According to UNESCO’s Deputy Director-General with responsibility for the CI Sector, Mr Getachew Engida, “I’m very pleased to see the growing interest across Africa, Asia-Pacific as well as Latin America and the Caribbean in this important IFAP resource which UNESCO’s General conference at its 36th session mandated as a tool to support Member States in implementing national information policy frameworks for universal access to information and integrating them in their common country programming processes. I call on Member States to provide additional resources to support this tool that clearly responds to their needs. To broaden the reach, use and impact of the IFAP Policy template the Secretariat is exploring the development of an electronic version of this important resource that will incorporate an online case library to which national experiences, statistics and new resources can be readily made available to policy-makers. However, to achieve this goal, tangible demonstrations of solidarity are key”.
The intergovernmental Information for All Programme was established in 2001. It provides a platform for international policy discussions, cooperation and the development of guidelines for action in the area of access to information and knowledge. The Programme supports Member States to develop and implement national information policy and strategy frameworks.
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UNESCO convenes an International Expert Group Meeting on the promotion of Arabic language on the Internet and in multi-stakeholder processes
As the debate on the Internet Governance related issues is rapidly growing among Member States and other multi-stakeholder groups, and the issues are discussed during various major international gatherings, it is important to provide the non-English/French language speakers with appropriate language tools, such as specialized glossaries. The meeting that started its work today at UNESCO in Paris, with eminent experts representing some 15 countries, reflects precisely this foremost concern and will aim to achieve the following objectives :
- Present a methodology applied for the development of the IGG as a standard practice and possible procedure for the development of other glossaries;
- Consult experts on the IGG in Arabic, review and revise the proposed entries;
- Validate the IGG in Arabic on a consensus based model;
- Identify the next steps to ensure an adaptation and localization of the IGG at regional level,
- Discuss the conditions for ensuring the sustainability of the IGG.
At the end of this initiative, it is expected that Arabic speaking countries could benefit from using the glossary of the Internet governance terms developed in a fully collaborative and multi-stakeholder way in order to help them developing common positions, contributing to decision making processes and thus facilitating their effective engagement in multi-stakeholder processes and Internet Governance mechanisms.
During the opening plenary session, in his introductory remarks, H. E. Mohamed Amr, Chair of the Executive Board and Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Egypt to UNESCO underscored: “Despite recent considerable technological developments, many linguistic communities are still unable to fully enjoy and exercise their rights, express their opinions, communicate and participate in social, political and economic processes. Your goal is to suggest ways for ensuring that there is an adequate use of supportive tools, and that appropriate content and services are available in Arabic. Your work today will make a difference for tomorrow.”
At this session, Ms. Chafica Haddad, Chair of the intergovernmental council for the Information for All Programme (IFAP) presented the main objectives of the Programme and its priority areas, including multilingualism, as well as its salient activities and recent achievements. In that respect, she warmly thanked H.E. Ambassador Mohamed Amr and the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt for their substantial support provided for the translation into Arabic of the IFAP Strategic Plan Report (2008-2013). She then invited the participants to use this report in developing and further promoting the objectives of the Information for All Programme in their respective countries. After presenting the IFAP activities in the area of multilingualism, she concluded by emphasizing that “one of the key challenges to information for all is the promotion of linguistic diversity in cyberspace”.
The renowned experts were also warmly greeted by Dr. Boyan Radoykov from the Knowledge Societies Division of UNESCO, who presented in his opening address the historical and institutional perspective of UNESCO’s work in the area of multilingualism as well as the process that led to the adoption and subsequent implementation of the unique normative instrument within the UN system – the Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace. He ended by emphasizing that UNESCO has always considered cultural diversity and multilingualism as key factors in fostering pluralistic, equitable, open and inclusive knowledge societies and that the Organization strongly encourages its Member States to formulate comprehensive language-related policies, to allocate resources and to develop and use appropriate tools in order to promote linguistic diversity on the Internet and in the media.
The Board also called for the conference Outcome Document to be forwarded to the UN General Assembly as part of the overall World Summit on the Information Society review process, and as a non-binding input to the post-2015 development agenda.
Their decision further appreciated the “open, inclusive and transparent process that UNESCO had engaged in” and recognized the insights of the CONNECTing the Dots conference.
The conference was organised specifically to review the draft of a comprehensive study on Internet-related issues and options for future action requested by UNESCO’s 195 member states during its 37th General Conference in 2013.
The draft study covered the four fields of (i) Access to Knowledge and Information, (ii) Freedom of Expression, (iii) Privacy, and (iv) Ethics of the Information Society, and proposed options for future action related to these fields.
It was based on extensive global consultations with civil society, academia, the technical community, private sector and Member States during a year and a half long deliberation process, encompassing outreach at 20 international and regional conferences and 200 online submissions to an open questionnaire launched by UNESCO.
These results were recognized in the conference Outcome Document, where the multistakeholder community commended UNESCO’s work in regard to 38 possible options for future action, and looked forward to UNESCO Member States deliberations on these.
The finalized Study will be published in advance of the General Conference of UNESCO’s 195 Member States in November, and will be reported upon as part of the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society.
"With this decision we aim to enhance efforts by relevant stakeholders in order to secure a safer working environment for journalists. It also reaffirms UNESCO’s position as the global leader in the promotion of safety of journalists and tackling impunity." said Ms Annika Markovic, the Swedish Ambassador to UNESCO.
Sweden was the UNESCO Member State that successfully proposed the Decision on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity adopted by the 196th Executive Board of UNESCO consisting of 58 Member States. The Decision attracted 47 co-signatories, including 27 members of the Executive Board.
In the discussion at the Executive Board, there was general recognition of UNESCO’s leadership role in the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, which is a multi-stakeholder approach to improve the safety of journalists.
The Decision taken yesterday reinforces the current work of UNESCO in relation to the UN Plan of Action. By working with all relevant stakeholders including national authorities, UN agencies, civil society groups, academia, and the media, UNESCO seeks to tackle the problems in a holistic and comprehensive manner.
One of the concrete actions called on by the Decision is to convene a conference with high level representatives of news organizations from all regions, including community media and small media outlets, and open to stakeholders. The aim would be to share good practices on the safety of journalists and more proactively highlight the issue of journalist safety.
This follows the Implementation Review Report of the UN Plan, which was finalized at the 3rd UN-Inter-Agency Meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, held in Strasbourg, France on 4 November 2014.
That Report noted that “Media houses and other actors should be encouraged to find common ground on the issue of safety and be more proactive in highlighting the issues”. It added: “Media houses should be encouraged to investigate and report on fatal and non-fatal attacks on journalists and media organizations, and follow up on impunity stories, as well as on occasions such as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on 2 November each year.”
The Decision also called for increased information sharing broadly, and for greater use of the UNESCO research report World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development including during the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council.
It further urged strengthened cooperation with professional organizations and other actors in addressing the safety of journalists, with a specific focus on women journalists.
Capacity-building, including through projects of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), was also noted. From 2013 up to 2015, the IPDC Bureau channeled financial support to more than 30 projects promoting the safety of journalists.
The IPDC was the incubator of the UN Plan of Action, and its Intergovernmental Council also receives the bi-annual report of the UNESCO Director General on the killings of journalists and the state of judicial follow-up.
UNESCO has been championing freedom of expression, press freedom and the improvement of safety of journalists for over two decades. Over the years, UNESCO has established various programmes to raise awareness of the issues such as World Press Freedom Day on 3 May which was first created in 1993.
The main celebration of the World Press Freedom Day in 2015 will take place in Riga, Latvia from 2-4 May in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia. The programme includes extensive discussions on safety related issues.
”Youth on Screen” aims at promoting TV programming that better responds to the needs of young people, facilitates their engagement and improves the portrayal of young women and men in its content. The conference launching this initiative will bring together around 50 participants from across the Southern Mediterranean region, including media professionals and civil society advocates working on youth issues, as well as programme-makers from EU countries.
Sessions will examine trends related to the needs and preferences of young people as an audience, the way in which they are represented and the extent to which their voices find a space in mainstream media, particularly television. Innovative formats from both sides of the Mediterranean will be showcased, including those creatively using social media and other online platforms to stimulate youth involvement. Young civil society representatives will share their views about the challenges of working with media actors, and examples of successful collaboration will be discussed.
Representing a unique forum for youth to engage in direct dialogue with senior media managers and TV producers, “Youth on Screen” is expected to help shape the development of TV programmes that more closely reflect the realities of youth and better respond to their expectations. It will promote the engagement of youth with media, including contributors to content production. The initiative will also facilitate training and mentoring for TV programme development, in-country meetings between programme teams and senior managers of media outlets, and a number of sub-regional gatherings of stakeholders concerned.
NET-MED Youth, a project implemented by UNESCO, includes a component encouraging the fair and objective representation of youth through quality media content; while MedMedia, which is implemented by a consortium led by BBC Media Action, facilitates media reforms and promotes public service broadcasting in the region. The Youth on Screen initiative also enjoys support from the Jordan Media Institute, the European Broadcasting Union and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
You can follow NET-MED youth activity online through #netmedyouth.
Legal Leaks training in Ankara: Empowering Turkish journalists to access information from European institutions and public bodies in Europe
To help media professionals access information held by public bodies at the EU level as well as in Turkey and other countries, a Legal Leaks training seminar was organized by UNESCO in cooperation with Access Info Europe, P24 and the SEENPM. The event took place in Ankara on 10 and 11 April 2015 and was attended by 30 participants.
“This training seminar is designed to empower journalists to use the right of access to information in order to hold public authorities to account and to produce stories of public interest” said Victoria Anderica, campaigner and researcher at Access Info Europe.
The training opened with a roundtable discussion on 10 April 2015 on the topic of access to information and media accountability. Participating in the debate were national experts and media professionals: Faruk Bildirici, Yavuz Baydar, Sezin Öney and Ciğdem Toker and international freedom of information (FOI) experts: Staffan Dallhöf and Gavin Sheridan.
On 11 April 2015, Victoria Anderica gave an introduction on the right of access to information and presented the Legal Leaks Toolkit on how to obtain information from public bodies and how to appeal refusals. Each participant received a copy of the Toolkit, which is designed for journalists working in newspapers, radio and television, as well as bloggers. The Turkish language version includes specific guidance on the national legal framework in Turkey. The Toolkits can be found online at this address: http://www.legalleaks.info/toolkit.html.
Gavin Sheridan, an expert on access to information in Ireland and across the EU, followed with a session explaining how to systematically integrate FOI requests into journalistic research. He gave different examples of how he successfully used laws from countries besides Ireland to write stories about his own country. He explained how new technologies and databases can be used to extract and report on information obtained through FOI requests, highlighting that “there are enormous opportunities for business in journalism in the digital space. When using FOI laws, you can build a system to get stories all the time.”
Staffan Dahllöf explained the way that EU institutions function and how to request information at the EU level. He clarified the differences between the EU Commission, the Parliament, and the Council, and presented various websites and tools where information can be accessed, in particular the Asktheeu.org request platform run by Access Info.
Adeline Hulin from UNESCO concluded the training by saying: “using access to information laws can invigorate and strengthen journalism, thereby contributing to higher quality public debates, increased public participation in decision-making, and thus to more open and democratic societies.”
This event took place within the framework of the EU/UNESCO project “Media Accountability in South East Europe” which started in January 2013. This was the final training in a series of local events that took place under the project, the others being in Tirana, Sarajevo, Pristina, Podgorica and Belgrade, with a regional event held in Skopje, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in October 2014.
The event, which attracted some 140 senior policy-makers representing 14 African countries across the continent and also including representatives of IFAP structures, UNESCO National Commissions and universities, was held from 26 to 27 March in South Africa, under the theme Information Ethics and Digital Opportunities.
In her message to conference participants, Ms Chafica Haddad, Chair of the IFAP Intergovernmental Council, underscored the importance of the conference and its key role in “creating a forum for regional policy dialogue, learning and reflection amongst policy makers to raise awareness, shape national strategies, foster regional cooperation and strengthen African nations in their effort to harness the opportunities of Knowledge Societies”.
Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, was the guest of honour and keynote speaker. In accepting a first edition of the newly published seven-volume toolkit on information ethics developed by the ACEIE, she commended the Center of Excellence on the tremendous progress that they had made since 2007, noting that “As South Africa rolls-out its broadband infrastructure towards 100% national penetration by 2020, information ethics is going to be our next challenge. This conference allows us to interrogate how we should use information ethics to defend our identities, cultures and traditions of Ubuntu (doing good to others)”. The Deputy Minister also recognized the contribution that UNESCO and IFAP have provided through their ongoing support.
Ms Menesia Muinjo of the Namibian Broadcasting Cooperation (NBC) remarked that “This event is giving participants an opportunity to learn from one another in terms of how to coordinate IFAP activities in their respective countries and particularly to implement IFAP objectives based on existing partnerships, as long as the work is done. What is coming out is that a lot is being done in terms of the IFAP pillars, but these need to be efficiently synergized and packaged as country positions.”
Hezekiel Dlamini, Communication and Information Adviser at the UNESCO Harare Regional Office opined that, ”To achieve the ideal goal of safe-access-to-information or access-to-safe-information, will take leadership at the political, social, academic and other levels to address the current and emerging ethical issues of the information society in order to create the much needed trust in our digital world.”
The intergovernmental Information for All Programme was established in 2001. It provides a platform for international policy discussions, cooperation and the development of guidelines for action in the area of access to information and knowledge. The Programme supports Member States to develop and implement national information policy and strategy frameworks.
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A language tool in Arabic for enhanced international cooperation to be discussed at UNESCO next week
The three-day international expert meeting will bring together leading experts, researchers, policymakers, Internet Governance and IT sector representatives working in the subject-area to provide their professional guidance and assistance for the validation of the “Glossary of Internet Governance terms in Arabic” (IGG), a language tool developed in cooperation with the above mentioned partners. The experts will be also expected to discuss and endorse more than two hundreds terms-candidates and provide concrete recommendations for the further application of the language tool at the national and regional levels.
The empirical evidence demonstrates that some linguistic communities could have limited opportunities to be engaged in international debates, such as the debate on internet governance, if they are not supported with appropriate language tools. They are likely to face complications in formulating and articulating their position, contributing to the debate, and transmitting their messages, or even to be misunderstood by other speakers. The project “Developing language tools and building institutional capacities with respect to the promotion of Arabic language on the Internet and in multi-stakeholder processes” initiated by UNESCO and ICANN, aims at facilitating the dialogue on the use of Arabic on the Internet, in an effective, efficient, and coordinated manner.
The overall initiatives of UNESCO on the promotion of multilingualism in cyberspace are undertaken by the Knowledge Societies Division, Communication and Information Sector, which is responsible as well for the realization of the concept of knowledge societies that are built on the key principles of inclusion, openness, diversity and pluralism. The Division also monitors the implementation of UNESCO’s only normative instrument in this field - the "Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Access to Cyberspace”, adopted by its General Conference in 2003.
This entry-level online course will provide youth with basic media and information competencies to become critical citizens and agents of change. The course is designed to enable youth to:
- Understand why media and other information providers are important to development and democratic societies;
- Recognise a need for information and to locate, access, organise and carefully evaluate information and the content of media and other information providers;
- Use and share information based on moral principles or accepted standards of social behaviour - inlight of opportunities and potential risks;
- Interact with media and other information providers to freely express themselves, share their culture and learn about other cultures, promote gender equality, and participate in democratic and development activities.
The course is based on the MIL Curriculum and the Freedom of Expression (FOE) Toolkit published by UNESCO. A central theme throughout this 10-week course is how media and information literacy can enable youth to be actively involved in intercultural dialogue, advocating for equality between women/girls and men/boys, and freedom of expression.
The course is offered through Athabasca University’s online e-Lab, using the learning management system, Moodle. Most sessions will be self-directed, with ongoing interaction with the course presenters in the online space. Athabasca is a Canadian university that holds a UNESCO Chair on open education resources. Athabasca University is an associate member of the UNESCO-UNAOC University Network on Media and Information Literacy and Intercultural Dialogue.
Applicants should be youth (females and males between the ages 15-25). Participants who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate from Athabasca University.
In order to successfully complete this course participants will need regular access to a computer and Internet access to download documents, listen to podcasts and view online videos.
To apply, please click here. Application must be completed by 20 April 2015. There are no associated fees to participants who wish to do this course.
This MIL course includes a research component being carried out by UNESCO
Online Media and Information Literacy Course Units
- Unit 1 – Media and Information Literacy (MIL): An Introduction
- Unit 2 – Media and Information Literacy and Intercultural Dialogue
- Unit 3 – Media and Information Literacy: Evaluating and Using Information and Media Content
- Unit 4 – Media and Information Literacy: Using Research and Analysis to Produce Your Own Information and Media Content
- Unit 5 – Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Information, Freedom of the Press
- Unit 6 - Representations of Gender in the Media, Books, on the Internet and in History
- Unit 7 – Media and Information Ethics in Relation to the Needs of Big Business, Politics and Development
- Unit 8 – Understanding and Evaluating the World of Advertising
- Unit 9 – The Challenges and Opportunities of Media, Libraries and New Technologies for Youth
- Unit 10 – Engaging with Media and Using New Technology and Information for Social Action
UNESCO-supported Report on Violence and Harassment against Women in the News Media launched in Beijing
Opening the seminar, Madam Meng Xiaosi, Vice-President of All-China Women’s Federation noted that “to transform gender equality from words to action, from legislation to practice…in this process, media is indispensable in promoting the value of gender equality, as well as contributing to the better implementation of national policies on gender equality.”
Ms Eunice Smith, Officer in Charge of UNESCO’s Beijing Office, pointed out that UNESCO takes a very strong stand on ending violence against women and on promoting gender equality and women’s rights. Talking about the Report, she noted that “no woman, or any other person for that matter, should have to face violence and threats – we all have the equal right to live free from violence and fear – and that includes female journalists. As such, this report is rather significant in that it identifies the forms of violence and threats faced by women media professionals, as well as the pathologies these threats and violence take, making it possible to develop policies, strategies and actions which can be taken to prevent, protect and eventually prosecute violence against women media professionals.”
Ms Irene Giner-Reichl, Ambassador of Embassy of the Republic of Austria in Beijing shared her memory of the Fourth World Conference on Women she attended twenty years ago in Beijing, which reiterated in the Beijing Declaration that “women’s rights are human rights.” She identified violence against women and women and the media as strategic objectives in the Platform for Action. She noted the changes and progress observed along this twenty year journey, as well as new and remaining challenges.
Ms Alana Barton, Project Director of the International Women’s Media and co-author of the Report presented the development and shared insights of this study with the Chinese audiences. The study noted for example nearly two-thirds of the respondents have experienced “intimidation, threats and abuse” in relation to their work. In addition, half of the respondents answering whether they have experienced sexual harassment while exercising their profession replied affirmatively. Ms. Barton observed that these experiences are taking place all around the world and that many respondents highlighted a lack of training and resources available to prepare them for the possibility of facing violence and harassment in the workplace. Thus the recommendations which are presented towards the end of the publication provide important information on steps which can be taken to prevent and end threats, abuse and violence against women media professionals.
At the conference, experts from All-China Journalists’ Association, China Academy of Social Sciences, Women’s Studies Institute of China of All-China Women’s Federation, Peking University, Women’s University, Communication University of China, China Women’s News, Phoenix TV and NetEase also gave presentations on their perspectives and experiences in promoting gender equality in and through media in China.
Professor Liu Liqun, Chairholder of UNESCO Chair on Media and Gender and President of China Women’s University closed the forum. She noted that this seminar served as a review of the mission of women development, and also an appeal to media social responsibility. The gather of experts and scholars from different domains brought diversified viewpoints to the debate and promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The seminar was also inspired by UNESCO’s initiate “Women Make the News”, which is a global action launched by UNESCO aimed at fixing attention on issues relating to gender equality in and through the media, driving debate and encouraging action-oriented solutions until global objectives are met. This year, UNESCO joins forces with the Global Alliance on Media and Gender to launch the annual Women Make the News 2015 initiative under the theme “Yes we must! Reaching Gender Equality in the Media by 2030.”
The ‘Empowering Local Radios with ICTs’ project works to build the capacities of local and community radio stations in key information and communication technology skills. There are currently 32 radio stations in seven African countries that are part of the project, with the eventual goal to expand outside of this region and become a model for capacity-building in vulnerable communities worldwide. The project has been a great success so far, with radio stations becoming increasingly engaged with their audiences and much more able to address issues of concern in their local communities, especially those of women and girls.
The brief has been left relatively free and open to allow for the most creative and novel ideas. Elements of virtual exhibits, online galleries and even socially-minded video games could be built into a final product that would be unlike anything seen before in this domain.
With the development of this new virtual experience, this important UNESCO project will receive the global attention that it deserves, and have a large role in assuring the continued future for the project and facilitating its expansion into other disadvantaged communities across the world.
To submit a proposal for this contract, please send a brief outline of the proposed final product, along with visual mockups, an outline of previous relevant experience and a proposed fee in USD, to t.francis(a)unesco.org on or before 15 April, 2015 at 12 pm Paris time.
“UNESCO’s publication on intermediaries serves a broader framework and is a useful resource for civil society to promote online freedom of expression through intermediaries”, said a participant at UNESCO’s session in RightsCon 2015.
With the rise of Internet intermediaries that play a mediating role between authors of content and audiences on the internet, this UNESCO publication provides in-depth case studies and analysis on how internet intermediaries impact on freedom of expression and associated fundamental rights such as privacy. It also offers policy recommendations on how intermediaries and states can improve respect for internet users’ right to freedom of expression.
UNESCO’s research was well received by participants of RightsCon 2015, an annual event widely attended by members of civil society, the technical community and private sector actors to promote an open Internet and digital rights globally and in South East Asia. UNESCO received positive feedback on the publication and useful suggestions from the participants to further this research by including more categories of intermediaries and examining smaller Internet companies in the developing world.
UNESCO also presented the research outcome at a pre-event “Manila principles on Intermediary Liability” on 23 April 2015, and contributed to the drafting process of the Manila Principles led by civil society organizations which was launched during the RightsCon meeting on 24 March 2014. The Manila Principles affirmed that Intermediaries should be shielded by law from liability for third-party content. They also affirmed that online content must not be restricted without a judicial order, with transparency and accountability being built into law and content restriction policies and practices related to Intermediaries.
UNESCO has been pleased to work on this research project on Internet intermediaries with the Open Society Foundations, the Internet Society, and the Center for Global Communication Studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. The current publication covers three intermediary types - Internet Service Providers, Search Engines and Social Media. It will be followed by future studies on other intermediary types, including data processing, web hosting providers, cloud computing services, and domain name registries, as well as online media with substantial user-generated content.
The research also helps to inform UNESCO’s implementation of a comprehensive and consultative multi-stakeholder Internet study as mandated by the Organization’s 37th General Conference Resolution 52. The study, due in 2015, covers UNESCO’s key competence areas of access to information and knowledge, freedom of expression, privacy, and ethical dimensions of the information society, and contains possible options for future actions.
Other publications in the Internet Freedom Series are:
They follow the same methodology, structure and presentation as the UNESCO-IPDC Media Development Indicators (MDIs), an internationally endorsed tool for assessing national media landscapes and identifying media development gaps. The new indicators on viability will be integrated, in a ‘lite’ version, into the existing MDI framework.
This will enable UNESCO to collect data on the viability of media as economically sustainable entities, whether commercial or non-profit, when evaluating national media landscapes. In addition, a more elaborate and detailed version of the indicators has been developed to enable comprehensive stand-alone studies on media viability.
The media viability indicators have been designed following a consultative process. A first draft, prepared on UNESCO’s behalf by Robert Picard, Director of Research at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford, was discussed at a UNESCO workshop on ‘Media, Sustainability and the post-2015 agenda’ in Montevideo on 16 December 2014. The workshop was attended by 25 media experts from Latin America.
In January 2015, further feedback was received through an online consultation process involving some 60 media and media monitoring experts from all regions.
UNESCO is now seeking to expand this consultation process by publishing the revised indicators on its website. The Organization invites experts to provide comments on the proposed indicators, taking into account the need for the indicators to be operational and the practical implications of cost and time for collecting the relevant measurement data. Attention should be given also to the different challenges that may exist depending on the context in which the indicators are being applied.
Once finalized, UNESCO intends to pilot these indicators in selected countries to help relevant actors develop appropriate responses that can promote media viability as an important pillar of media development.