Ms Shala highlighted that IPDC is adapting to meet the challenges of the digital age, through partnerships such as with Deutsche Welle on indicators for media viability – including digital viability, as well as by supporting innovative media projects like an online course for Mexican judges.
These activities aimed to help bridge the digital gap among nations and to support online freedom of expression and access to information as rights.
“No other contemporary development is likely to be more profound in its long term impact on global society than the information revolution and the rise of the Internet,” said the IPDC Chair.
Ms Shala described how IPDC was at the forefront of global efforts to support the safety of journalists, including digital safety. In addition, IPDC supported the empowerment of young people to put their issues effectively onto the digital media and social media agenda.
“This is what gives young people control of their own identities – instead of leaving vulnerable to emotional manipulation by propaganda or advertising. We live in a young world,” she said.
Her remarks noted that IPDC’s Council endorsed continued work in standard setting through the elaboration and application of indicators relevant to media development.
This includes work on indicators for Internet development, to assess the extent to which the universality of the Internet is being reinforced by the principles of human-Rights, Openness, Accessibility, and Multi-stakeholder participation (R.O.A.M).
More could be done but IPDC was increasingly being fitted out, said the IPDC Chair, adding that “it goes without saying that UN has to be fit for the digital age, for which we have no alternative”.
The first place to start such a discussion on media viability is the new assessment framework developed by the IPDC in conjunction with the Deutsche Welle Akademie, observed Laura Schneider, Project Manager responsible for research and evaluation at the DW Akademie.
Earlier in his introductory remarks, Fackson Banda of the IPDC explained that such an assessment tool was represented by the newly developed IPDC Media Viability Indicators, aimed at producing an evidence base for understanding the status of economic and financial viability of media in a given country.
Taking up this point, Schneider, whose organization partnered with the IPDC in developing the toolkit, stressed that it was important to pilot the indicators in order to get a sense of their usefulness and versatility as a diagnostic tool.
Speaking on behalf of the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA), Mark Nelson, the centre’s Senior Director, unveiled a study conducted by CIMA to aid understanding of what, how and where media assistance was supported by OECD/DAC (Development Assistance Committee) countries.
He concluded that the IPDC’s Media Viability Indicators could potentially be a game-changer in getting OECD/DAC countries to better target their assistance in support of the larger question of improving free and independent media.
For his part, DW’s Daniel Blank, responsible for global partnerships, challenged the participants to think of how the Media Viability Indicators could be used in training a cadre of future media business strategists.
He expressed concern that business training workshops were sometimes carried out in an environment of insufficient knowledge about the business positioning of media companies, pointing out that the IPDC toolkit could potentially remedy this.
The Media Viability Indicators were developed by Robert Picard of Oxford University in consultation with the IPDC and the DW Akademie.
Among others, the panel discussion was attended by representatives from the BBC Media Action and Germany’s Catholic Media Council (CAMECO). The panel was one of several organized at the Global Media Forum organized by Deutsche Welle under the theme “Media and Foreign Policy in the Digital Age”.
Chair of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication, Albana Shala, moderated the discussion, which gave particular attention to the role of the media:
- Larry Kilman of the World Association of Newspapers described good practice with media companies that have clear guidelines for online commentary, and in terms of which they moderate content to ensure a civil conversation.
- Remzi Lani of the Albania Media Institute warned that if mainstream media practised “hate silence”, this tended to drive hate speech into “echo-chambers” in social media. Balkan wars had ended on the ground 15 years ago, but tension was continuing with a new generation on the Internet.
- Media and social media are unwittingly helping ISIS recruitment, said Iraqi journalist Dana Asaad, who criticized the reportage of only a small part of the reality. “Media should show the peaceful sides of Islam, and cover the stories of victims of ISIS,” he said.
State responses were discussed by Gabrielle Guillemin of the NGO Article 19. She highlighted that any website blocking should be exceptional and adhere to international standards for freedom of expression. Courts rather than law enforcement bodies should make the determination.
The need for states to promote Media and Information Literacy in schools was urged by Olunifesi Adekunle Suraj of Lagos State University. He said that this form of empowerment was needed because protectionist steps were not working.
Research and conceptual clarity is critical, said Oxford University academic Iginio Gagliardone, who is also lead author of a new UNESCO study released at the event.
In order to counter hate speech online, both the causes and the actual impact have to be understood, he said. Social context was vital to assessing whether there was really a risk of harm arising from incidents of hate speech online.
The conference is convened in a partnership between the Information for All Programme and IPDC.
Ms Shala posed a number of questions: “How can we help youth de-romanticize danger and violence? How to nourish in them a sense of purpose and fulfilment and make radicalization less acceptable and desirable? How to empower youth be free?”
The Chair noted that although Internet plays a role in radicalisation, it was not the principal driver. Nevertheless, the Internet and offline media could be used to counter radicalization. In this, IPDC played a positive role by:
- Promoting media pluralism: freedom of choice so that individuals, young and old, have credible alternatives to messages that romanticise radicalization.
- Empowering young people to put their issues effectively onto the media and social media agenda, and to control their own identities – instead of leaving them vulnerable to emotional manipulation by propaganda or advertising.
- Capacity-building for journalists to be sensitive to their work possibly contributing towards stereotypes and misinformation among young people.
- Supporting safety of journalists so that they can report to the world on the role of extremists in radicalisation,
Ms Shala also listed the activities IPDC was proposing within the wider UNESCO project to take forward the momentum of the conference:
- Countering hate speech in media and social media;
- Promoting conflict-sensitive journalism practice;
- Promoting cross-cultural and cross-religious dialogue; and
- The safety of journalists.
To help respond to this alarming situation, UNESCO’s International Programme for the Developmnet of Communication (IPDC) supported the project "Safety of Journalists Working in Hostile Environments in Rural Pakistan", aimed at training journalists in safety-related issues.
Six training programmes were organized in three districts of South Punjab (MuzzaffarGarh, Bahawalpur and RahimYarKhan), which is in the grip of religious extremism and sectarian violence. A total of 90 journalists were registered for six training workshops but due to pressing demand 125 journalists were finally accepted, including 38 women.
The participation of women in the project was noteworthy, taking into account local circumstances. “We hail the decision to include 38 female contributors in the Samasatta and MusafirKhana training workshops”, said RMNP Coordinator Ms NajmaunNisa Bukhari.
“In the rural areas of Pakistan, where 70 % of the population lives, only a few journalists are female. In Bahawalpur region, home to 12.5 million of inhabitants, there is not a single female journalist. And men cannot report about women's points of view as they cannot approach and talk with women freely.”
She concluded: “The almost none-existence of women journalists means that the media do not cover a large segment of society. Women’s perspective is totally missing in the news coverage. There is an urgent need to expose human rights violations against women in local and national media.”
Topics covered during the training programme included how to cover violent mobs; dealing with pressures, threats and intimidation from different sources; managing contacts and relations with information sources; how to protect facts and maintain balance in a story; and how to cover a bomb blast.
Issues like covering warlords’ atrocities, gang rapes and honor killings were also included in different workshops. Parallel practical exercises were conducted to improve writing skills.
For the purposes of the training, RMNP upgraded a training manual on safety issues in Urdu. All six events were conducted by Karachi- and Lahore-based trainers.
The training programme ended with the establishment of a safety mechanism for journalism practitioners in three difficult areas of South Punjab, where no media house is actually present, as well as the setting up of six local press freedom monitoring committees. The project participants also urged the relevant authorities to make the protection of journalists a national priority.
“The biggest challenge in Pakistan, apart from the direct threat to the life of journalists, is a culture of impunity. Only the killers of two journalists out of 116 cases have been arrested in the last decade. This promotes impunity and allows anyone to threaten and target journalists because they know they can get away with murder”, said RMNP President Mr. Ehsan Ahmed Khan Sehar.
The meeting gathered 25 participants from Kenyan media associations, the Ministry of Information and Communications, Ford Foundation, and Kenyan National Commission for UNESCO.
Participants discussed national state of journalists’ safety in Kenya and deliberated on the issue of impunity on the basis of the UNESCO Journalists’ Safety Indicators as endorsed by the UN Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. They also reflected on modalities for the implementation of UNESCO’s ongoing study conducted by the African Media Initiative to analyse the national state of journalists’ safety and issue of impunity in Kenya.
During the meeting Ms Reeta Pöyhtäri, UNESCO’s Expert for Journalists’ Safety Indicators, gave a presentation on the UN Plan of Action and reiterated the specific objectives to be achieved during the aforementioned study in Kenya, which is expected to assess the safety and protection of journalists, to create awareness about these issues, and to provide a knowledge-based platform for future initiatives to address the threats to the media industry in Kenya.
Ms Pöyhtäri further reminded that freedom of expression is a fundamental element of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and therefore it underpins other democratic freedoms such as the right to form political parties, the right to share political ideas, the right to scrutinise the actions of public officials.
Dr George Nyabuga, the lead researcher, briefed participants on the study’s proposed methodology based on UNESCOs Journalists’ Safety Indicators and also presented a framework that will be used to identify the context of safety and the responsibility of diverse actors in Kenya. The framework comprises a working tool that will focus explicitly on journalists’ safety. This tool will allow for assessment of the problem, of the systems in place and the actions of various actors and institutions concerned in addressing the issue of journalists’ safety in the country.
According to Mr Wangethi Mwangi, Senior Advisor, African Media Initiative, “the meeting provided a better understanding of UNESCO's Journalists’ Safety Indicators, and helped clarify the scope of the proposed research, its limitations and, also, opportunities for in depth investigations in some areas”.
“This was an extremely important exercise considering the deteriorating situation of journalists’ safety in Kenya. The data and information that will be collected during the period of this research will help create sound interventions,” said Patrick Mutahi, Senior Programme Officer, Article 19 - Eastern Africa.
Ms Hellen Mudora Obanda, Executive Director, Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), reiterated that “while assessing journalists’ safety in Kenya, the gender dimensions of intimidations, threats and violence against women journalists must be addressed in this research. The security of women journalists remains paramount.”
This activity falls within the efforts of UNESCO to “promote an enabling environment for freedom of expression, press freedom and journalistic safety in Kenya”. The study is funded by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Programme on Development of Communication (IPDC), which is a multilateral forum in the UN system that not only provides support for media projects but also seeks an accord to secure a healthy environment for the growth of free and pluralistic media in developing countries.
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.
The proposals, submitted by proponents in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, are in line with UNESCO's Strategic Response to Ebola, which underlines the need to strengthen communication systems in the above countries.
The funds will be used to enhance community radio infrastructure, issue reporting guidelines, train investigative journalists and mobilize women's participation and engagement in media.
Guy Berger, secretary to the IPDC Secretariat and director of the Freedom of Expression and Media Development Division at UNESCO, reminded the eight-country Bureau members chaired by Albana Shala (Netherlands) that media development interventions introduced during the Ebola outbreak must be sustained through further capacity building.
"If there is already a strong, pluralistic, free and independent media system in a country, then that counts as good preparedness to deal with disaster," he emphasized.
In reinforcing the point, Albana Shala, IPDC Chairperson, argued that "the three countries, which have experienced war and conflict, have not received much support from the IPDC in the past thirty years. They merit our attention now more than ever."
The Bureau members agreed that without information, one inadvertently faces the risk of Ebola contamination in the Mano River Region.
Recent efforts in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone demonstrate commitment to achieving zero status of Ebola cases in 2015 and to strengthening public institutions to contain the disease and its impact. Attention to the media landscape and its development in all three countries is of paramount importance if the existing media infrastructure is to continue playing a fundamental and long-lasting public service role.
During the past week, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 79 new Ebola cases including 1 in Liberia. Despite large-scale information and education campaigns, many communities are still resistant to the public health messages put out by authorities and international organizations, according to the non-governmental organization, Doctors Without Borders.
Ankomah made the announcement during the ongoing IPDC Bureau meeting at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
He explained: “We recognize the importance of the IPDC in building journalists’ capacity in elections reporting. We thus consider our contribution as part of our effort at building a partnership with the Programme”.
He added that the IPDC had enormous capacity to “influence politicians and policy-makers” on matters of freedom of expression, access to information and the safety of journalists.
Which is why Ankomah called upon the IPDC to urge its African Member States, including Ghana, to enact a Freedom of Information law, as a way of acceding to the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.
Such a move, he explained, would open up government data and ensure journalists were protected from political pressures associated with reporting on sensitive issues.
Acknowledging this contribution, IPDC Chairperson, Albana Shala, thanked Ankomah, saying that the contribution by Allied News Ltd was facilitated by the Ghanaian Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, HE Johanna Odonkor Svanikier .
She said: “This contribution gives the much-needed visibility to the IPDC. Indeed, every contribution helps to sustain this unique inter-governmental programme”.
The IPDC Bureau meeting will conclude later today, after considering such other issues as the IPDC’s niche in the wider media development environment as well as responding to strategic gender issues in programme implementation.
Mr Ankomah shared with the Bureau meeting of the IPDC the role of his media organization in opinion research and their reportage had contributed to the success of Ghana’s elections.
Colombia has evolved a system over 15 years to protect journalists, and this has helped to strongly reduce the numbers of journalists killed in that country, said Carlos Cortés. He presented a wiki that details the way the system works, highlighting the importance of a centrally-driven initiative and integration of protection with legal actions against those who attack journalists.
France’s TV5 Monde has a system in place for rapid response to danger, said Yves Bigot, Director-General of the station. The broadcaster’s protection systems liaise closely with state authorities, but not at the expense of independence of journalists, he noted. Tracking technology enables live monitoring of the safety of international correspondents in the field, who also need to report to editors at least every 12 hours.
He warned that information about local movement could sometimes be compromised by betrayals from associated staff, exposing journalists to kidnapping and ransom demands.
States have a role to play in regulating that media companies should provide protection for journalists, said Monir Zaarour of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). He further stated that after the Charlie Hebdo killings, safety issues had entered into the minds of every journalist and their family worldwide.
Instead of relying on costly international trainers with translators to empower journalists in self-protection, IFJ has developed a programme in Africa and the Arab States to capacitate local trainers to deliver the knowledge and skill.
The stress of working as a journalist needs to be recognised and responded to, said Kenyan psychologist Dinah Kituyi. Her experience assessed journalists in East Africa showed high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as problems of denial and emotional numbing.
Delegates from Denmark, Peru, Sweden, Brazil, Bangladesh, Algeria and Niger took the floor in response to the speakers.
The concept note for this panel states: “in a global world, to stop journalists being killed anywhere, it is necessary to stop the attacks everywhere. There should be no space for “precedents” and copycat killings; instead journalists need to be protected, and perpetrators of attacks must be brought to justice. Sharing experiences and building practical responses will give concrete effect to the basic norm that violence against journalism cannot be permitted.”
The IPDC meeting also served to launch the new UNESCO publication “Building Digital Safety for Journalists”.
He noted that IPDC was a vehicle to share international experiences in the safety of journalists, highlighting lessons that “are no longer distant to Western Europe – such as protection systems for journalists, training of trainers to optimize capacity-building efforts, and support for journalists suffering from trauma.”
Mr Engida added: “the safety of journalists is truly a global effort, and the IPDC’s support for activities in one part of the world can increasingly be of help elsewhere.”
In echoing Engida’s remarks, IPDC Chairperson, Albana Shala, further highlighted IPDC’s role in advocating for journalists' safety online and offline, adding that ‘killings of journalists, if unpunished, tend to make checks on power impossible’.
These IPDC concerns about journalistic safety and other aspects of media development were subsequently taken up in an analytical summary of projects supported by the IPDC over the 2013-2014 period.
In presenting the report, Fackson Banda, a programme specialist responsible for an IPDC initiative called Knowledge-Driven Media Development, pointed out that a significant number of projects supported by IPDC were relevant to the issues.
The IPDC Bureau is currently meeting to examine almost 100 project proposals submitted from all over the world as part of its drive to improve the media condition in terms of freedom of expression, capacity development for journalists and technological innovation.
How Kenya deals with problems of stress on journalists is the subject of discussion by Dinah van Altena Kituyi, an expert speaker in the debate “After Charlie: strengthening the safety of journalists”, scheduled at UNESCO for Friday 27 March.
The event is part of a meeting of the Bureau of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication. The IPDC is the cradle of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
Ms Kituyi will speak about the nightmares, anger and emotional numbing experienced by Kenyan journalists who have been subjected to threats and worse.
She has extensive experience in counselling media people, including journalists in exile, and is a contributor to the publication “Images that stay forever” about their stress in relation to covering massacres in 2012 and 2013.
The effects of stress are damaged relationships at home, substance abuse and ongoing unhappiness. The recommendations Ms Kituyi will speak about include complementing psychological support with awareness raising and research, and including stress as part of safety training in schools of journalism.
Another speaker sharing international experience at the meeting is Mr Carlos Cortés, an expert who is researching the development of police protection of journalists in Colombia. He will describe the evolution of different structures that evaluate and respond to journalists under threat.
The Colombian system is widely recognised as a pioneering step whereby a state can ensure that journalists can withstand intimidation and be shielded from attack.
Mr Monir Zaarour, of the International Federation of Journalists, will speak at the meeting on a model of training trainers as a way to maximise skills-sharing amongst journalists in regard to self-protection. This has been implemented especially in the Arab region.
The role of media institutions in terms of supporting the safety of journalists will be covered by Mr Yves Bigot, Director-General of TV5Monde.
Delegations of Member States as well as the media have been invited to the meeting, and a video of the proceedings will be put online in order to spread the information further.
An amount of approximately $1m will be shared out amongst the projects that are selected, with the money coming this year from extra-budgetary contributions made by Andorra, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
The 8-member Bureau of the IPDC will make the decisions at its 59th meeting on 26 and 27 March, at UNESCO Headquarters. This programme was started in 1980, and over the years it has disbursed over $100m to media development projects in developing countries.
During the meeting, the Bureau will also discuss an analytical report on projects that were supported over the past year, as well as how to promote gender mainstreaming in IPDC-funded projects.
Algeria, Bangladesh, Denmark, Ghana, the Netherlands, Niger, Peru and Poland make up the members of the 2015-16 Bureau, as elected by the 39-Member State IPDC Council in November 2014.
The meeting will also discuss IPDC’s four special initiatives – covering the safety of journalists, media development indicators, excellence in journalism education, and knowledge-driven media development.
The agenda of the meeting includes a debate on Friday 27th titled "After Charlie: Strengthening the safety of journalists".
Speakers with expertise about protection of journalists’ safety in Colombia, Kenya, France and the Arab region will share their experiences and engage with Member States.
Other items on the agenda for the Bureau include examining the niche and priorities of IPDC, as well as setting communication and fundraising targets to increase the impact of the Programme.