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UNESCO convenes discussion around World Trends Report at International Journalism Festival in Perugia

UNESCO provided a preview last week of its new policy brief on media viability at the International Journalism Festival, which took place in Perugia, Italy from 7 to 10 April. The paper, supported by the IPDC as part of its viability work, comes as the seventh in a series of issue briefs under the UNESCO World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Report series.
International Journalism Festival in Perugia

The IPDC is UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication, which has been leading research on the existential economic crisis facing independent news media. 

On the occasion of the Festival, UNESCO also organized a brainstorming event to discuss the 2021/2022 Global Edition of the World Trends Report.

The media viability policy brief was launched during a session called ‘Saving Journalism: Assessing Media Viability Efforts in the Age of Covid’, organized by the International Center for Journalists.

The authors of the new policy brief—Anya Schiffrin, Julie Posetti and Emily Bell—discussed its findings and recommendations, together with Branko Brkic, editor-in-chief of South African newspaper The Daily Maverick and Saorla McCabe, Deputy-Secretary of IPDC.  

In her opening remarks, McCabe highlighted the serious challenges that independent journalism is facing, citing data included in the most recent global edition of the World Trends Report. “Two companies, Google and Meta, now receive approximately half of all global digital advertising spending, while in the last five years, global newspaper advertising revenue dropped by half,” she said.

McCabe explained that UNESCO is leading international data collection, research and consultation efforts to guide policy makers and media actors in responding to these viability challenges.

As part of this initiative, UNESCO has also commissioned Economist Impact to collect original data in 10 countries in the Global South as well as to analyse global trends in media viability. That research is being featured in a new Economist Impact report, set to be released this week, on the economic impact of COVID-19 on the global news industry.

The media viability session at the Perugia Festival was also an occasion to draw attention to the new  IPDC handbook ‘After the pandemic, building back a stronger media’. The highly-readable publication is a collection of inspiring initiatives from across the globe that are piloting new business models to overcome the difficult financial context.

In a separate event, UNESCO invited some 30 media development actors, journalists and academics to discuss how best to leverage the potential of UNESCO’s World Trends Report series and ensure that its findings and recommendations are used to inform policy making.

Andrea Cairola, Senior Programme Specialist on Freedom of Expression and the Safety of Journalists at UNESCO, drew participants’ attention to the Report’s special chapter on journalism as a public good, which contributed to the November 2021 endorsement by UNESCO’s General Conference of the principles the Windhoek+30 Declaration. The Declaration recognizes media viability, transparency of internet companies, and media and information literacy and central pillars of information as a public good. 

Participants’ recommendations for enhancing the impact of the World Trends Report included to inspire young people and additional stakeholders such as the tech press and the cryptocommunity; to carry out additional original data collection; and to put a stronger focus on data visualization and interactive content to stimulate engagement.

A final UNESCO resource that was showcased at the Festival was the global research project on online violence against women journalists. Its findings were discussed during a panel that involved renowned journalists Rana Ayyub (Washington Post), Patricia Campos Mello (Folha de Sao Paolo) and Marianna Spring (BBC), as well as the lead author of the report, Julie Posetti from the ICFJ.

Read more to find out more about UNESCO’s work on media viability.

Read more about UNESCO’s World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development series of flagship reports.

Read more to find out more about UNESCO’s work on the safety of women journalists.