UNESCO Holds ‘Journalism Under Fire’ Colloquium in March


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is scheduled to hold the “Journalism Under Fire: Challenges of Our Times” colloquium in its Paris headquarters on March 23, 2017.

The Colloquium includes a series of roundtables on topics related to press freedom and an exhibition of original front pages of newspapers’ first editions.

The knowledge generated by the deliberations will give all stakeholders a greater appreciation of the issues and ideas for ways forward. These insights will particularly contribute to the 2017 edition of the UNESCO flagship series “World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development”.

In the framework of the colloquium, UNESCO will organize two roundtable discussions aimed at providing a global platform to assess the international landscape facing media actors. The format of both roundtables will generally not be speeches but instead, television-style discussions and debates with a panel as well as audience interaction.

Up to 250 participants and stakeholders are expected to attend the colloquium including representatives of UNESCO Member States, representatives of news organizations, civil Society, academia and professional associations.

These various stakeholders including media leaders, journalists and other experts will have an opportunity to analyse the extent to which there is a “crisis of journalism” and unpack the main driving forces involved.

The Morning Round Table scheduled to hold between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m will feature two panels: Rise of identity politics as a challenge to representative democracy; and Media challenged: business models, new technologies, and ethics

This discussion will gather prominent media experts, social scientists and journalists to discuss developments related to change context and the challenges facing the media.

It will also examine the reasons that some audiences reject quality journalism, choosing unreliable sources instead; why some media falls short of professional standards and itself promotes unverified information for particular agendas.

The speakers are expected to put forward ideas of what media professionals could do to regain audience trust.

In particular, the following five themes will be examined: identity politics and representative democracy; polarization and its impact on communications; quality journalism as a public good; commercial pressures and the sustainability problems of traditional media; and credibility, information and sustainable development

The Afternoon Round Table taking place between 2:00 p.m and 5:00 p.m will feature two panels: A crisis of audience identity: social networks, computer generated misinformation, false news; and The future of media education and new ethics.

The discussion will be opened by the UNESCO Director General and will bring together prominent journalists, as well as representatives of media development organizations and social media networks.

There will be discussions on the extent of impact of the new players, including active audiences for good and ill, on global and national media and news agendas. It will address such issues as social network companies, how algorithms affect news on their networks and the issue of audience fragmentation and information bubbles. In particular, the following themes will be examined: social network companies and producers of “fake news”; algorithmic personalization and spam “bots”; and media education and information literacy programs.

All participants to the colloquium are expected to register online for security and logistical reasons. Each participant is responsible for his or her own travel arrangements, visa application, accommodation, and other travel related costs and requirements.

Registration for the Colloquium closes on March 16, 2017.

The Colloquium is organised in association with the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) within the framework of the “La Presse en Liberté” week of March 22 to 29, 2017.

The week is co-organised by UNESCO and the Permanent Delegation of Switzerland to UNESCO and the Permanent Delegation of France to UNESCO, with the support of IPDC. The event is organised with additional contributions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania and the Permanent Delegation of Latvia to UNESCO.