Conference topics

  • Media Accountability in Europe
  • Internet, privacy, security and professional standards
  • The Self-Regulation Experience
  • Media Accountability in Emerging European Democracies

Food for thought

  • How should press councils, press ombudsmen, readers’ and listeners’editors handle complaints related to material published on the Internet? How should press codes be adapted in light of the increasing relevance of online content?
  • The advent of digital technologies has changed the rules of the game for media, breaking down existing business models and causing new ones to emerge. As traditional media faces declining revenues, guaranteeing political and economic independence can become more difficult.  Also, “tabloidization”, sensationalist and biased coverage today seem to result in higher profits, and have therefore become increasingly attractive to some journalists and media houses. These issues significantly challenge the maintenance of high professional standards.
  • Hate speech, gossip, unfounded accusations and criticism have also proliferated over the Internet, representing a serious phenomenon for media accountability mechanisms to deal with.
  • The fact that more actors now create greater volumes of information, disseminate it quicker and in more ways than ever, and to an increasingly diverse audience, makes the job of editorially supervising online content especially complex. Framed by this never before seen decentralization of information, credibility and reliability of content published on the Internet has often been called into question, and the growing workload has put a strain on media accountability systems, which need to adapt and be reinforced to face the challenge. Should the scope of media accountability systems extend to all websites disseminating news? To what extent is a newspaper editor responsible for certain information made available on a newspaper’s website, such as videos, tweeter posts, or comments by readers? These are some of the issues that need to be considered.
  • Particularly important among the current concerns and debates are the trade-offs or instances of conflict between the growing information flows over the Internet and the right to privacy. Other often-cited considerations when discussing the potential risks of new technologies have to do with threats to the  safety of their users, or to national security/interest and international relations, for instance. Thinking about how media accountability systems can address these complex matters is key, especially for realizing the full possibilities that new media imply for freedom of expression while guaranteeing that other human rights and civil liberties are not harmed in this digitally-revolutionized context.Many among the current dilemmas are linked to social networks.There are journalists who have utilized them as a source of information, and in some of these cases citizens have filed complaints about a breach of privacy. For press councils, this has resulted in the need to re-examine the notion of privacy, and consider new types of questions related to the quality of the information reported upon, and the responsibility of journalists or media house in regards to verifying information disseminated through social networks. Specific issues such as who posted the information online, the privacy settings selected when doing so, and the public interest in the case are some of the aspects to be taken account in these emerging cases.
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