@ Felix Zahn
Meeting on the sidelines of the 46th Human Rights Council, the Alliance for Multilateralism held its first meeting of 2021. On this occasion, Christophe Deloire, Chair of the Forum on Information and Democracy and general secretary of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), presented the progress of the working group on the sustainability of journalism.
More than fifty foreign ministers met by videoconference Wednesday 24 February within the framework of the Alliance for Multilateralism. Inaugurated by France and Germany in September 2019, the Alliance carries out international projects and promotes initiatives on the major challenges of the international stage such as access to health, climate change and cyberspace. It is in the context of the launch of this Alliance that the International Partnership on Information and Democracy was signed in September 2019.
Following the speeches of French, German, Canadian and Finnish ministers, as well as the Director General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay, Christophe Deloire, Chair of the Forum on Information and Democracy, presented the progress of the working group on the sustainability of journalism. Launched in November 2020, the working group on the sustainability of journalism aims at formulating structural solutions to fight against the decline in journalism revenues which endangers the survival of many news media, impacts the quality of content and represents a major democratic danger.
“Democracies need trusted third parties in the public debate, said Christophe Deloire. Due to their independence, methods and ethical rules, journalists are supposed to play this role. But the survival of quality journalism is nowadays at stake. Digital platforms capture value and distort competition by removing the distinction between trusted content and other forms of content (sponsored news, influencers, State propaganda, rumors).”
He insisted on 5 points of action being developed by the working group: the need to impose on digital platforms a fair distribution of income, the establishment of corrective and solidarity taxation of platforms, the development of transparent and neutral press aid, the creation of new statutes for the media or even the allocation of part of the development aid to public interest media.
In support of the working group, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian called for “new regulations so that the media can continue to fully play their role as a pillar of democracy in spite of the economic and technological changes that are today disrupting their operating models”.
For the Swiss State Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Livia Leu, “guaranteeing access to factual and reliable information is essential […]. We salute the efforts of the Forum on Information and Democracy in this area”. Finally, for the Deputy Foreign Minister of Lithuania, Mantas Adomenas, “access to reliable information and a free and independent media remains crucial as well as the need to push back disinformation and propaganda […]. We support the goals formulated in the International Partnership on Information & Democracy within the context of the Alliance for Multilateralism.
The final report of the working group on the sustainability of journalism will be published in May 2021.