Today the report of the High-Level Expert Group on fake news and disinformation was presented to European Commissioner Gabriel. The HLEG was set-up to advise on policy initiatives to counter fake news and disinformation spread online. News Media Europe was one of 39 members of this group which brought together academics, civil society and fact-check organisations, the platforms, broadcasters and the press.
The multi-dimensional approach recommended by the HLEG is based on a number of interconnected and mutually reinforcing responses. These responses rest on five pillars designed to:
enhance transparency of online news, involving an adequate and privacy-compliant sharing of data about the systems that enable their circulation online;
promote media and information literacy to counter disinformation and help users navigate the digital media environment;
develop tools for empowering users and journalists to tackle disinformation and foster a positive engagement with fast-evolving information technologies;
safeguard the diversity and sustainability of the European news media ecosystem, and
promote continued research on the impact of disinformation in Europe to evaluate the measures taken by different actors and constantly adjust the necessary responses.
The report recognises the critical role of the media in bringing high quality news content to the European citizen and calls for actions designed to preserve the diversity and long-term economic sustainability of the news media ecosystem. These include actions in support of press freedom and pluralism, funding of projects supporting quality journalism and investments in research and innovation actions to improve technologies for online media services.
Given the absence of relevant codes of practice applicable to platforms, the report also sets out a number of key principles and a roadmap to guide the formulation of a Code of Practices. News Media Europe aims to be involved in the Coalition that’ll be set up to work on this Code, either directly or through its membership.
Wout van Wijk, Executive Director of News Media Europe, comments: “The news media industry upholds and promotes the highest degree of transparency and ethical journalistic norms in line with professional codes and subject to editorial decision. News Media Europe stresses that platforms should not be put in a position to make qualitative judgements on media and decide what is quality journalism and what is not. In fact, the only quality mark in journalism can be the individual news titles themselves.”
The report feeds in to a Communication on fake news and disinformation by the European Commission, which is expected by the end of April.