The second edition of UNESCO’s report on World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development was launched in an academic seminar at the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at Høgskolen i Oslo og Aker shus (HiOA) in Norway.
This report explores emerging opportunities and challenges for press freedom in the digital age with a focus on online hate speech, protection of journalism sources, the role of internet intermediaries in fostering freedom online, and the safety of journalists. The report highlights the importance of new actors in promoting and protecting freedom of expression online and offline
Summarising the World Trends report, Guy Berger – UNESCO’s Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development highlighted its uniqueness as a holistic and authoritative UN assessment covering developments over a five year period. He noted that the next edition would be published in 2017.
The launching featured a panel of experts, moderated by Prof Kristin Skare Orgeret who commented on varied aspects of the report. Commentators at the launching included Aina Landsverk Hagen, a researcher specializing on hate speech and freedom of expression and Trond Idås from the Norwegian Union of Journalists.
They spoke about the unchronicled misogynistic harassment of women journalists on the internet. They said that when harassment was recognised it could be addressed, but this should not be left to the affected individual to have to deal with alone.
In her remark, Prof Elizabeth Eide also made reference to her doctoral research which showed that post-traumatic stress amongst journalists was very much related to the ethical dilemmas they had to confront. According to her, because journalists were not used to feeling that they were victims, their stress was seen as a weakness and was not well researched. She expressed the need for newsrooms to provide better preparation, recognition and support for journalists in this area.
An investigative journalist specialising in surveillance and cyber security at Dagens Næringsliv, Osman Kibar also commented on fast-moving trends of digital dangers facing journalists. According to him, if a journalist’s security was compromised initially, it did not help to then take special steps for sensitive stories.