IGF 2023 DC-Sustainability Data, Access & Transparency: A Trifecta for Sustainable News

DC-Sustainability Session Key Takeaways, Report and Recording (IGF 2023)

Date: 10 October, 2023

Time: 10:30 - 12:00 JST

Format: Hybrid

Description

This roundtable will assemble experts from media, governments, civil society, big tech, and academia to delve into the evolving regulatory landscape and its implications for the media industry. With the imminent implementation of the EU's Digital Services Act and the consideration in a number of countries of policies similar to Australia's News Media Bargaining Code, the discussion will center on how data, access, and transparency can bolster media sustainability in this rapidly shifting environment. The participants will examine the potential impact of these regulatory frameworks and explore how policies and practices can be developed to create an enabling environment for journalism and news media organizations. By considering these crucial developments, the roundtable aims to provide insights and recommendations that address the challenges and opportunities arising from the evolving regulatory landscape, ensuring a sustainable and thriving future for the media sector.

The discussion will focus on the following questions:

How can policymakers ensure a fair and transparent distribution and monetization of media content on big tech platforms, while also protecting the interests of media organizations and preserving a diverse and independent media landscape?

What policies and mechanisms can be put in place to facilitate responsible and transparent data sharing between big tech companies, media organizations, and academics, while addressing challenges such as privacy, data security, and intellectual property rights?

What regulatory frameworks can governments implement to encourage and enforce transparency and accountability among big tech companies, with regard to their data practices and their impact on media sustainability?

How can transparency about media ownership, funding sources, and editorial practices foster accountability, credibility, and independence in journalism and news media?

This multistakeholder discussion will create a platform for collaboration and dialogue, fostering a shared understanding of the complex dynamics at play. It will allow for the exchange of ideas, identification of common goals, and the exploration of potential solutions that will address the interests and concerns of all stakeholders involved.

Key Takeaways

Data, access, and transparency are fundamental to the sustainability of news and internet governance. However, data access discrepancies around the world, especially in Global South regions, limit the capacity of research, analysis and reporting about the impact that digital platforms have on news and journalism sustainability, as well as on society as a whole.

The global reach of supranational policies might require regional/local parties to comply with rules originated elsewhere. The session acknowledged the interconnection of local issues with global ramifications and vice-versa, and stressed the importance of ensuring representation and access to digital policy discussions in all levels for those communities and sectors that will be most affected by these initiatives.

Calls to Action

To Intergovernmental/Supranational Organizations: Allocate resources and initiatives to enhance participation and access for underrepresented communities, ensuring their voices are heard in global internet policy discussions, including on data privacy, news sustainability, and generative AI, and that their perspectives are taken into account when drafting resolutions, policies, and guidelines.

To Private Sector: Ensure that the implementation of internal policies created in compliance with international or supranational bodies take into account the diversity of local context. Engage with local stakeholders, media organizations, journalists, and their communities to address the local implications of global digital policy frameworks.

Session Report

Introduction

The DC-Sustainability coordinators, Daniel O’Maley, Waqas Naeem and Courtney Radsch opened the session by underscoring the significance of balancing technology innovation governance with the sustainability of journalism and news media. The key highlight for the year was the dynamic coalition's focus on data transparency and access as vital elements for media sustainability. The coalition's annual report was launched during the session, a collaborative endeavor that offers a snapshot of the critical issues facing the news media industry. The report spotlighted topics like the power imbalances between media and tech giants, the dual nature of government regulations impacting media, and the challenges and opportunities presented by technological innovations, such as generative AI.

In the first section of the session, authors of the report presented their chapters: Prue Clarke (New Narratives - Australia), Mike Harris (Exonym - United Kingdom), Juliana Harsianti (Independent Journalist and Researcher - Indonesia) and Juliet Nanfuka (CIPESA - Uganda). Following the presentations of each chapter, members of the DC-Sustainability took the floor to present their work: Michael Markovitz (GIBS Media Leadership Think Tank - South Africa), Ana Cristina Ruelas (UNESCO - Mexico), Julius Endert (DW Academy - Germany), Michael Bak (Forum on Information and Democracy - France), Sabhanaz Rashid Diya (Global Tech Institute - Bangladesh) and Ramiro Alvarez (CELE - Argentina). The session concluded with an open discussion with the audience.

Global influence of EU/US policies

A key topic was the overarching effect of policies and tech companies from powerhouses like the EU and the US on the global digital space. Despite being localized, their ripple effect transcends borders, impacting organizations working in so-called “Global South” countries. These organisations often find themselves grappling with the daunting task of compliance, struggling to decipher a logic they didn't create and can't control. Notably, these policies (both from companies and governments) play a pivotal role in shaping how journalists and media outlets operate, offering them limited avenues to challenge the tech giants. Courtney Radsch elaborated on these techno-legal systems, emphasizing the major influence of US and EU-based tech platforms on global media. These platforms determine how content rules and policies, such as the DMCA and GDPR, are implemented. Tying into the conversation on how centralized internet governance has impacted media visibility and sustainability, Mike Harris spoke about the importance of decentralized rulebook systems to empower news media, especially in the face of challenges from large online platforms. Juliana Harsianti shed light on the evolution of digital technology in Indonesia, emphasizing the implications of regulations intended for e-commerce now being used to restrict journalistic freedom.

Digital Equity: Paving the Way for Sustainable Journalism

Data stands as the backbone of informed decision-making in today's digital realm. Gathering the right data is the first hurdle. With tech platforms influencing the visibility and viability of content, there's an undeniable need for a coordinated approach to collect and utilize data. Such data can aid in understanding audience behaviors, advertising strategies, and the effectiveness of content distribution methods. Ensuring a fair compensation model, bolstered by clear data-driven strategies, can pave the way for the sustainability of quality journalism. In that regard, via a written statement, Michael Markovitz the Conference held in July, “Big Tech and Journalism - Building a Sustainable Future for the Global South” which culminated in the adoption of the Principles for Fair Compensation, aimed to be a framework for the design of policy mechanisms seeking to address media sustainability through competition or regulatory approaches.

Prue Clark spotlighted the disparity faced by countries like Liberia in the digital age. The challenges faced by media in such countries, from a lack of digital monetization knowledge to reliance on government support, are evident. Juliet Nanfuka offered a parallel from Uganda, emphasizing the hesitancy in the media's approach to AI, despite the challenges they face. Both Clark and Nanfuka highlighted the struggles and gaps in media adaptation and digital training in lower-income countries.

Daniel O’Maley emphasized the transformative power of data sharing, stressing the importance of understanding which data is essential for different sectors. He talks about the implications of data transparency policies, especially considering their global impact.

While Nanfuka highlighted the challenges of integrating new technology into media spaces that are already grappling with other significant issues, Julius Ender dived into the transformative power of AI in media, emphasizing the importance of AI literacy. Both Ender and Nanfuka conveyed the urgency for media sectors, especially in developing countries, to understand and adapt to AI's growing influence.

Regional Focus vs. Global Perspective:

During the Members’ Spotlight, Sabhanaz Rashid Diya offered insight into the mission of the Tech Global Institute to bridge the equity gap between the global South and dominant tech platforms. Ramiro Alvarez provided a deep dive into the media landscape of Latin America, emphasizing the influence of state-driven media and the need for more open dialogue. This regional focus complements the broader global themes discussed, reinforcing the idea that global digital governance challenges often manifest in unique regional ways. Despite the fact that the media landscape varies by region and country, there are common threads of challenge and opportunity related to digital governance, sustainability, and the integration of new technologies.

Conclusion and next steps

Overall, the session emphasized the value of global collaboration grounded in local insights. It's not just about dissecting EU or US policies, but also diving deep into what's happening in places like Uganda and Liberia. The local challenges faced in these regions have global implications, reinforcing the need for an inclusive approach in policy discussions.

While the EU and US might often take center stage due to their significant influence, the collective effort should focus on ensuring that voices from all corners of the world are heard: Global strategies must be informed by local knowledge and experiences.

In the coming months, DC-Sustainability members will meet again to shape the priorities for the year ahead, especially when it comes to envisioning AI governance and its impact in the media. The goal is to ensure that as the world of journalism evolves, it remains rooted in authenticity, inclusivity, and the pursuit of truth.

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