Council of Europe Conference: UNESCO highlights importance of self-regulation & accountability mechanisms for trust in media

Ljubljana, Slovenia
16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

UNESCO highlights the importance of media self-regulation and accountability mechanisms to build trust in media at Council of Europe Conference in Slovenia

“Building and maintaining trust in media has become one of the strategic priorities of UNESCO in addressing the challenges of the information disorder. To achieve that, we encourage media professionals to abide to journalistic standards and support editors and media owners to cultivate a sense of accountability and transparency,” said Adeline Hulin from the UNESCO Brussels Office at the conference.

Organized by the Council of Europe and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, the event took place at the National Gallery of Slovenia on the 28 and 29 November 2019, under the heading “(Last) call for quality journalism?” The conference brought together 150 editors, self-regulatory bodies and regulators, academics, media lawyers, policymakers, media experts and journalists to exchange views on the current reality of the news production, on the applicable standards and the way to make them effective in practice, and on ideas for possible policies to strengthen and support independent and quality journalism.

The role of quality journalism remains crucial for democratic societies, by serving the public interest and promoting accountability in the public life

Patrick Penninckx, Head of the Information Society Department, Council of Europe

“The shrinking space for quality journalism, the growing precariousness of journalists and the increasing concentration of media ownership are serious concerns in Europe and in Slovenia in particular. Since we are launching a comprehensive reform of our legislation in relation to media, this conference is a great opportunity for us to learn from the best practices in the field,” said the Minister of Culture of Slovenia, Zoran Poznič.

UNESCO was invited to speak and share its experience in the panel session “How to win back public trust: ethics, quality, accountability”. Sharing the lessons learnt from the European Union funded project “Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey”, Ms Hulin underlined the critical role played by press and media councils in providing a free of charge mechanism of complaints for the public about potential non respect of media professional standards. She also highlighted that those mechanisms need financial support to ensure their sustainability and adaptation to the digital age as they have been hit by the media financial crisis. She finally stressed the need to develop incentives for media to abide to such voluntary accountability mechanisms.

Media and Information Literacy initiatives and the support to public service media were also discussed during the conference as major ways to encourage and strengthen journalism at a time when the impact of social media platforms and manipulative websites in information practices are causing growing concerns about the quality of the information reaching the public. “The role of quality journalism remains crucial for democratic societies, by serving the public interest and promoting accountability in the public life” reminded Patrick Penninckx, Head of the Information Society Department of the Council of Europe.