The future of news is linked to journalists’ working conditions


On 1st December, the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI) invited the EFJ, digital start-ups and media groups to discuss  “Media adaptation strategies and expectations” together with representatives of the Council of Europe government representatives.

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Director of Research at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism of Oxford University, presented at the outset the results of a recent study on Challenges and opportunities for news media and journalism in an increasingly digital, mobile and social media environment –   prepared for the Council of Europe on this topic.

“The move to an increasingly digital, mobile, and social media environment  means that forms of policy intervention developed in and designed for twentieth century media environments will need reform to be effective and efficient in twenty-first century media environments,” said Nielsen.

This is particular important when it comes to (1) effectively addressing potential market failures in the production of the public good of independent, professional, quality journalism, (2) securing an efficient and competitive media market place enabling both private sector, public, and non-profit media, and (3) ensuring that citizens develop the media and information literacy necessary to navigate the media environment effectively in their own best interest.

Renate Schroeder, EFJ Director focused on 4 challenges: (1) increasing precariousness, weak status of (freelance) journalists and work intensification; (2) how to support journalism as a public good; digital start-ups, sustainable funding models; 3. robot journalism and algorithms; and (4) training and media literacy. She drew the meeting’s attention to the CoE recommendation on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors, which entails many very useful guidelines including protection against precarious working conditions.

Challenges for the digital transition are real time (24h journalism); engagement with readers; and exploitaion of new digital formats while guaranteeing trust in news said  Nabil Wakim, Direcor of editorial innovation.

Representatives from The Guardian and French local digital media rue 89 addressed the difficulties in guaranteeing sustainable  revenue -in particular for local news digital platforms, but also for global players like the Guardian.  The digital revenue of the Guardian has  gone down.

The meeting further discussed the role of Google and Facebook, public service media, reduced VAT for digital media; fake news, support for local media and investigative journalism.  The future of  journalism will remain high on the agenda of the CDMSI, to which the EFJ has an observer status.