IGF 2018 WS #205
The Future of News Media Viability in a Digital World


Sub-theme description: Digital Media Development

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: ,
Organizer 3: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 4: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 5: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Mark Nelson, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Juliet Nanfuka, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Mallory Knodel, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Xianhong Hu, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Jennifer Cobb, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Panel - 90 Min


Speakers will play an active role during the entire workshop, Following a short presentation by every panelist on their specific contribution to the topic, each speaker will actively engage with each other as well as the audience. Below is a general overview of the perspectives that the speakers may offer:

Mark Nelson from the Center for International Media Assistance will discuss the importance of approaching news media viability from a multistakeholder perspective. In particular he will address how the rise of new global social media platforms has changed the way we need to think about the circulation of news and information, and also how it should be funded. He will discuss research that shows how these changes have impacted news producers and journalists in developing countries in unique ways, and which are not being taken into account at present by the dominant technology and government actors in this space.

Xianhong Hu from UNESCO will discuss ongoing efforts to support media development in the digital age. In particular she will speak to the need to assess the internet ecosystem in terms of human rights guarantees access information and freedom of expression. She will discuss the Internet Universality Indicators being developed by UNESCO and how they may be used to better assess whether internet ecosystems are fostering news media viability

Jennifer Cobb will speak on behalf of Internews and the United for News Coalition, a multistakeholder coalition of civil society and private sector actors working to find ways to support independent journalism through advertising. The digital ecosystem has upended traditional advertising placement mechanisms, and this has provoked many in the private sector to develop new strategies to support news producers. The United for News Coalition demonstrated why multistakeholder efforts are key to solving this growing challenge, and also points to some areas where much broader change is needed in the internet governance sphere to promote news media viability in the long-term.

Juliet Nanfuka from CIPESA will discuss efforts by East African journalists and civil society groups to develop ICT policy that fosters freedom of expression and allows journalists the ability to report on issues that matter most to citizens. She will discuss regulatory barriers being implemented by countries that jeopardize freedom of the press and freedom of expression. Ultimately these type of limitations impede long-terms news media viability and will significantly limit media development in developing countries.

Mallory Knodel from ARTICLE 19 will discuss the technical solutions that might foster news media viability, as well as some proposed ideas that will have deleterious effects on journalism and media development. She will also discuss why social concerns like media pluralism and human rights need to be incorporated into the development of technical platforms as opposed to being an afterthought once technology has already been developed.


Speakers have been chosen on the basis of geographical, gender, sector, and stakeholder representation. The session will have speakers/facilitators from different regions (Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas) and from different sectors (technical community, civil society, multilateral bodies, etc.). In addition, more than 50% of participants in the session are women.

The speakers in this session will discuss current efforts to promote an internet ecosystem that fosters news media viability. In particular, the speakers will address current challenges such as the shift to new advertising models and the social media “platformization” of news content. They will look at best practice examples of independent news media generating income through innovative and alternative business models and speak about the policy changes that must be undertaken at global and regional levels in order to foster an environment where independent journalism can thrive.

The issue of news media viability in the digital ecosystem is one of the primary focuses of the cross-sector “Internet Governance for Media Development” working group that was first organized at last year’s IGF in Geneva. This session will serve as a venue to share some of the outcomes of this multistakeholder collaboration as well as an opportunity to invite more individuals and organizations to join these efforts.

Mira Milosevic from the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) will facilitate the roundtable discussion among the panelists before opening the session up to questions from the audience. Ms. Milosevic has extensive experience moderating public events and also is an expert in the field of journalism and media development. This will enable her to guide the discussion in ways that benefit the audience on-site and participating via remote participation.

The session will start with a brief introduction on the topic by Ms. Milosevic. Then each of the speakers will be given five minutes to introduce their work and discuss their perspective on what needs to be changed in the digital ecosystem to support journalism and news outlets. Ms. Milosevic will then initiate a discussion among the panelists based on their interventions and have them directly engage with one another on the topics they raised. This moderated discussion will last approximately twenty minutes. The final half of the session will be dedicated to incorporating audience questions and comments – from both the on-site participants and those participating remotely. Ms. Milosevic will coordinate with Mr. Reventlow, the online moderator, to ensure that remote participation is effectively included in the discussion. At the end, each speaker will be given two minutes to provide their concluding thoughts.

Draft Agenda:
1. Welcome by the Moderator
2. Brief Speaker Introductions and Position Statements
-Mr. Mark Nelson (CIMA), The importance of the on the need for multistakeholder approaches in improving media viability”
-Ms Xianhong Hu (UNESCO), “Media viability and the Internet Universality Indicators”
-Ms. Juliet Nanfuka (CIPESA), “Developing ICT policy to foster Freedom of Expression in East and South Africa”
-Ms Jennifer Cobb (Internews), “Working together to find new ways to support news producers”
-Ms Mallory Knodel (ARTICLE 19), “Technological solutions for media viability”
3.Discussion among Speakers Facilitated by Moderator
4. Open Discussion Based on Audience (On-site and online) Participation
5. Brief Concluding Remarks by Speakers
6. Session Summary and Remarks on Potential Next Steps by Moderator

Citizens around the world are increasingly getting their news and information online. However, the current digital ecosystem has proved largely ineffective at providing the financial resources necessary to support journalists and news organizations. Without support to news producers, the digital media ecosystem will likely become even more disorganized and cluttered with unverified and unreliable information. Unaddressed, this issue impacts all stakeholders because it leads to a social environment where citizens and policymakers alike have difficulty accessing verified information and making fact-based decisions.
At present there is no clear consensus on what must be done on either the national or international level in terms of securing news media viability via internet governance. What is clear is that this issue cannot be addressed by one stakeholder alone, but requires dialogue across stakeholder groups. This is why engaging this discussion at the IGF is imperative in addressing this central issue to the global development of media.

Further adding to the relevance of the issue to the wider Internet governance agenda, this session will engage media organizations, journalists, and media development organizations. This is important since this collection of actors tends to be underrepresented within the ecosystem. Hence, we will engage them more actively and directly in internet governance discussions, while subsequently addressing issues that directly impact them within the multistakeholder environment.

Online Participation

We will ensure that any remote interventions are incorporated into the discussion, and we will encourage media development stakeholders to participate remotely should they not be able to attend in person to increase the access of this underrepresented group of actors within the Internet governance ecosystem. We will promote remote participation on social media using the hashtags #mediadev and #IGF2018. The online moderator, Andreas Reventlow from International Media Support (IMS), will monitor the remote participation platform and social media for questions and comments. He will then communicate these interventions to the on-site moderator and the audience present at the IGF. In this way, the thoughts and perspectives of those participating remotely will be included in the session.