In the context of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) conference recently held in Paris, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum (WEF) panel focused on ethics and the role of traditional media in the digital age. When everyone has the ability, says the report, to blog, tweet and publish, traditional media have a greater responsibility to provide ethical, credible journalism.
The report notes that in the digital environment, when the source of information is often unknown, it becomes more difficult to determine credibility. Is the source supporting a hidden point of view? Is the blogger offering to promote products for a fee? Does the ethical culture transfer to the online environment? The panelists explored how the tenets of traditional media, quality editorial, credibility and ethical reporting, and investigative journalism, translate in the new media landscape.
Larry Kilman, Deputy CEO of WAN-IFRA and the panel moderator, “All too often, discussions about the information society focus on telecommunications and delivery platforms... but the focus should really center on the content being delivered... we have the opportunity to discuss the role of the traditional media in the new media landscape, but... the role should be self-evident: to provide the credible information necessary for citizens to make informed decisions in society.”
Annette Novak, WEF Board member and Vice-president of the Fojo Media Institute, says “... democracy is served by a broad media landscape... news is about content, not platform... funding for quality content should go to platforms chosen by the audience... at present, this is mobile devices... “
Novac goes on to say “... managing the online debate is pivotal... guaranteeing journalistic transparency has become... vital to the independence of news outlets... given the reliance on citizen journalists who... play the role formerly occupied by foreign correspondents...”
Amadou Mahta Ba, CEO of the African Media Initiative, said “... mobile phones are now a universal right... by 2015, there will be one billion mobile phones in Africa... news content (must be) available on mobile phones for the development of humanity... “
And, Philippe Massonnet, Global News Director at Agence France-Presse, concludes that“... traditional media is new media... being on the ground is gold... whether it is a traditional foreign correspondent or a citizen journalist... our role as content providers is to check and double check our sources... “
The World Summit on the Information Society provides a forum for discussion of the opportunities of the new information and communication environment, and addresses challenges such as the inequality in access to information and communication called the ‘digital divide’. Inquiries to: Larry Kilman, Deputy CEO and Director of Communications and Public Affairs, WAN-IFRA, 96 bis, rue Beaubourg, 75003 Paris France. Tel: +33 1 47 42 85 07. Fax: +33 1 42 78 92 33. Mobile: +33 6 10 28 97 36. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org