European Federation of Journalists

EFJ and 16 partners support Paris Charter on AI and Journalism

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is one of the signatories of the Paris Charter on AI and Journalism. The first of its kind, this charter defines ethics and principles that journalists, newsrooms and media outlets around the world will be able to appropriate and apply in their work with artificial intelligence. It was created by a commission initiated by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and chaired by journalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa.

On November 10th, 2023, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and 16 partner organisations, including the EFJ, published the Paris Charter on AI and Journalism, on the occasion of Paris Peace Forum. Work on the Paris Charter on AI and Journalism was launched in July 2023 in partnership with civil society organisations, experts in artificial intelligence, media representatives and journalists.

The charter was written by a commission that was brought together by RSF and was chaired by Maria Ressa, a journalist who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021. The commission comprised 32 prominent persons from 20 different countries who are specialists in journalism or AI. The EFJ was represented in that commission by Hanna Möllers, deputy General Secretary of the German Federation of Journalists (DJV). The goal was clear – to determine a set of fundamental ethical principles to protect the integrity of news and information in the AI age, when these technologies are poised to transform the media industry.

In response to the turmoil that AI has created in the news and information arena, the Charter defines ten key principles for safeguarding the integrity of information and preserving journalism’s social role. Inter alia, the core principles state:

  • Ethics must govern technological choices within the media;
  • Human agency must remain central in editorial decisions;
  • The media must help society to distinguish between authentic and synthetic content with confidence;
  • The media must participate in global AI governance and defend the viability of journalism when negotiating with tech companies;
  • AI system owners must credit sources, respect intellectual property rights, and provide just compensation to rights holders, including journalists (this was a specific request from the EFJ).

“AI exacerbates what is already an existential moment for journalism”, said Maria Ressa. “While it promises new opportunities, it also brings significant threats to the integrity of information. Technological innovation doesn’t inherently lead to progress: it must be steered by ethics to truly benefit humanity. To safeguard the right to information, journalists and news organisations must join forces to ensure ethics guide the governance and use of the most transformative technology of our time. The Paris Charter on AI and Journalism is a significant step towards this goal.”

“At the end of the day,” added Hanna Möllers, “AI is nothing more than a tool. Whether a knife is used to cook or to kill depends on how we use it. We do not ban the use of knives, we criminalise murder. Nor should we ban AI. But we should regulate it to find a constructive approach to AI that promotes democracy and journalism. That is why we need guidelines like the AI Charter.”

Technologies based on artificial intelligence offer unprecedented new perspectives but also pose unprecedented challenges for journalism. At a time when deepfakes could amplify disinformation and shatter public trust in all audio-visual content, and when language models are liable to increase productivity at the expense of the integrity of news and information, media affirm by endorsing this Charter that they will not allow new technology to divert them from their mission of serving the public interest. The Charter promotes an approach in which human judgment and journalistic ethics constitute the pillars of journalism’s social function as a trusted third party.

The EFJ’s only regret about this charter is the absence of any reference to journalistic self-regulation (press councils, ethics councils, etc.), particularly in the face of new forms of disinformation. “It is a pity that the Charter does not explicitly mention the role of these bodies in assessing the ethical nature of the use of AI in the media,” said EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez.

Co-signatories of the Charter:

  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  • Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU)
  • Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)
  • Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF)
  • Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
  • DW Akademie
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • European Journalism Centre (EJC)
  • Ethical Journalism Network (EJN)
  • Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
  • Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN)
  • Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
  • International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)
  • Pulitzer Centre
  • Thomson Foundation