UNESCO convenes a “world café” on worldwide trends in media and culture at Global Media Forum


Seated in small groups around six tables, some forty participants brainstormed responses to global trends media and culture and how they reflect global inequalities.  

After 15 minutes, the participants switched tables, leaving behind written notes on their insights for their successors. Table “hosts” later reported back to the house.

This “world café” format began with presentations on two recent UNESCO global reports – on freedom of expression, and the diversity of cultural expressions -
delivered at the annual Global Media Forum held in in Bonn, Germany, 11 to 13 June.

“We need to get the positive trends, trending,” said Guy Berger, Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO, in presenting UNESCO's World Trends Report on Freedom of Expression and Media Development.

Earlier in the day, a keynote speech by Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State at the German Federal Foreign Office, referred to the Report saying that it showed that while “restrictions are increasing, there is also greater public awareness of freedom of the media and information”.

In his presentation to the “world café”, Berger summarized the Report’s four areas of analysis: 1. Freedom of expression; 2. Independence; 3. Safety; and 4. Having a plurality of media choices (acronym: FISH).
The Report shows a mix of primarily negative trends and challenges, but also areas of progress and opportunity in advancing press freedom and its contribution to sustainable development.

”Media, and in particular public service media with editorial independence, where they exist, are crucial enablers and drivers of the diversity of cultural expressions”, said Christine Merkel, Head of Division for Culture, Communication, Memory of the World at the German Commission for UNESCO, when providing an overview of UNESCO’s 2018 Re/Shaping Cultural Policies Report, of which she is a co-author.

The Report monitors the implementation of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005).  Merkel explained that the Report contributes to policies to support the creation, production, distribution and access to cultural services and to enhance fundamental freedoms.

After the presentations, participants in the “world café” debated and proposed actions that could be taken by UNESCO and other stakeholders.  Key takeaways included the need for attention to public service and community media; the importance of Media and Information Literacy in the era of “fake news” and disinformation; and the need to take into account local contexts when analyzing trends in media and culture.

The Global Media Forum brings together 2,000 influencers from the worlds of journalism, digital media, politics, business, civil society and academia.