Press and media councils from South East Europe and Turkey adopt a Joint Declaration to strengthen media ethics in the digital ecosystem

Sarajevo: Press and Media Councils from South East Europe and Turkey gathered in a regional meeting in Sarajevo, from 16 to 18 November 2021, and adopted the first ever joint declaration of the region calling for the strengthening of media ethics in the digital information ecosystem.

Stressing the critical importance of media self-regulation in fostering media freedom while combatting online disinformation, the Press Councils of the region are urging various stakeholders to ensure functioning and sustainability of media self-regulatory bodies in the digital information ecosystem.

The Declaration is the outcome of a two-days conference organized within the framework of the UNESCO EU-funded project “Building Trust in Media and South East Europe – Phase 2”, which brought together in a hybrid-format all self-regulatory bodies of the region. During the discussions , the participants identified common positions on the challenges posed by the evolving information ecosystem, the rise of new forms of journalism, media and journalists’ dependency on social media for distribution of their content, and the sustainability of the self-regulation systems. The results of these discussions are summarized in the Joint Declaration signed by the representatives of the Press Councils, on 17 November in Sarajevo.

Among the issues addressed during the discussions was the need to enhance ethical standards within the entirety of the media profession, including new online media actors, and increase membership of media in self-regulation systems. The Declaration, therefore, calls on media professionals to ensure sufficient training and awareness on journalistic standards, but also to ensure visibility of media’s adherence to self-regulation systems.

The Press and Media Councils also lengthily discussed what role they should play in ensuring the visibility of public interest journalism on social media platforms. “Press and Media Councils increasingly have a role to play in helping ethical media survive and thrive on the Internet platforms, particularly on social media platforms,” said Koloreto Cukali, Executive Director of the Albanian Media Council. To this, Dzenana Burek added, “The reality is that journalism is inextricably linked to these platforms, and we see that journalistic content is too often taken down from platforms. And for now, we don’t know what criteria are used for content moderation, which is very worrisome as media heavily rely on platforms in their work.”

“The adoption of a Joint Declaration by all Press Councils of the South East Europe and Turkey is a solid signal about the increased cooperation existing between self-regulatory mechanisms of the region. It is also a strong call for increased adherence of online media actors to ethical and professional media standards and a call to various stakeholders to strengthen the sustainability and effectiveness of media self-regulation,” concluded Adeline Hulin, Project Officer at the UNESCO Liaison Office in Brussels.

The Joint Declaration of the Press and Media Councils from South East Europe and Turkey has also been translated into the local languages of the region. The local language versions can be consulted on the web pages of the Press Councils.


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