Focus areas

The GFMD’s core strategy and activities are closely aligned to "zeitgeist" issues that affect journalism, media practitioners, and the wider media industry.

1. Journalism as a pillar of digital information ecosystems and information integrity

With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and the ensuing economic fallout, journalism and news media have never been more vulnerable. For them to thrive, it is essential to strengthen democratic governance and safeguard an environment conducive to producing high-quality, fact-based information. To foster independent and pluralistic media ecosystems that counter disinformation, local and independent journalism and news media sustainability must be a priority. This means that we have to fight for journalism as a pillar of our digital information ecosystems and for public-interest media.

The lack of professional journalism impacts our ability to access high-quality information and inherently erodes the foundations of democratic societies. See for instance the vicious cycle of undermining credible journalism that is not optimised for social media platform algorithms or is simply drowned out by bots, trolls, and malicious actors who exploit such algorithms to spread disinformation and disrupt information ecosystems as more resources must then be devoted to combating such phenomena.

An antidote to disinformation

Disinformation is a major policy issue around the world and is giving rise to myriad legislation and regulation that will impact news media directly and indirectly. However, the battle against disinformation has also cloaked repression and restrictions on press freedom particularly at the national level.

Many of the solutions to the complex issues laid out in this strategy depend on being able to define journalism/news media and to determine criteria that indicate quality, which depends on defining such indicators. As we position journalism as an antidote to disinformation, we also need to emphasise that to be effective, it needs to be accessible and widely available.

Reforming Ad-Tech

Journalism and news media content is highly disadvantaged in the economies of scale model that technology companies are pursuing. Moreover, the powerful ad-tech system inadvertently funds domains that misinform and disinform and often amplifies their messages. The same forces are driving the black market for social media manipulation and disinformation sites.

Despite repeated public commitments of digital technology companies to address vulnerabilities, surprisingly little has been done to improve the ad-tech architecture, incentives, and its algorithmic systems.

Monetising investigative and accountability journalism

Changes in the journalism industry have also impacted the production of quality information. Since there are no incentives in the digital sphere to value the production of high-quality content, investigative accountability journalism is very hard to monetise.

On the contrary, the creation of sensational, yellow-press, clickbait-oriented content is incentivised by some digital technology companies.

What GFMD will do

GFMD’s role in disinformation and content moderation policy discussions should focus on providing evidence and informing technology companies and policymakers to recognise how news integrity and trust are integral parts of addressing disinformation.

2. Global perspectives on shaping the future and sustainability of journalism and news media

The media industry is one of many economic sectors that are disrupted by the internet economy, and global debates taking place in legislatures, regulatory agencies, and policy circles are considering the wider impact that the digital economy, government regulation, and digital platform policy have on society. Yet these debates often overlook or minimise journalism and news media and the implications of digital platforms’ market power on access to high-quality news content. Thus, any serious effort to address the mounting problems plaguing digital platforms—from misinformation and hate speech to content takedowns and violent and extremist content—must also prioritise their impact on and the challenges faced by journalism and the news media sector.

EU and US

Although technology regulation and the frameworks and approaches adopted by countries around the world are fundamental to the future of media sustainability in each context, regulation in the US and EU in particular have an outsized impact on the rest of the world. This is due to the dominance of American companies (e.g., Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon, etc.) and the US context in which they are embedded (intermediary liability, First Amendment, limited privacy protection vis-à-vis private actors) and the influence of European legislation on its individual members states and other regions (e.g., Global Data Protection Regulation, Right to be Forgotten).

A long-term focus of GFMD engagement will be to ensure that those trying to change policies around digital taxation and advertising technology are equipped with information about how these policies impact news media and journalism, bringing a SM/GS media perspective into these debates.

The need to address these challenges led GFMD to work with our members and partners to establish the Dynamic Coalition on the Sustainability of Journalism and News Media (DC-Sustainability). The DC-Sustainability is an open, multistakeholder initiative operating in the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) established to promote one of our core shared concerns: protecting our online information ecosystems by promoting human rights, press freedom, and access to information.

GFMD needs to ensure that those trying to influence policies around digital services and markets, including digital taxation and advertising technology are equipped with information about how these policies impact news media and journalism, bringing perspectives of small and medium sized media and journalism organisations from Global South to the debates

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