GFMD AT THE 2018 INTERNET GOVERNANCE FORUM

The GFMD team attended the 13th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Paris, from 12-14 November. The IGF is an annual event held under the auspices of the United Nations that facilitates multi-stakeholder dialogue about digital policy and the evolution of Internet technologies. Although the term sounds vague, Internet governance refers to the processes, fora, and conversations happening around the world that involve stakeholders from multiple sectors – the technical community, governments, the private sector, civil society, academia, and more – debating, collaborating, and at times, clashing over the future of the Internet.

There is hardly an aspect of the work that the journalism and media development community does that is not touched by Internet policy. Yet, journalists and the media are consistently missing from these important conversations. Internet governance has become a key priority for GFMD because we not only believe it’s critical to be part of the conversation, but the Internet and digital technologies in the age of digital convergence have become an indispensable part of a journalists’ daily life. The issues discussed, from how content is regulated and moderated to the way artificial intelligence (AI) is impacting media viability, all require media voices.

In addition to participating in various workshops as speakers, GFMD conducted many bilateral meetings, as well as wrapped up the week by participating in a roundtable discussion on AI hosted by UNESCO as an invited panellist. We also partnered with CIMA, ARTICLE 19, IMS, and DW Akademie to co-organise the second edition of a meeting of the working group on media development and Internet governance that followed-up on last year’s inaugural meeting in Geneva. At the meeting, we launched an issue paper we produced over the past year that formulates a clear and concise agenda by outlining key digital policy issues relevant to the journalism support and media development community. Furthermore, we strategised on how to move forward with our work over the next year.

Internet governance will undoubtedly continue to grow in relevance to our community, and we will be there to ensure the voices of the journalism support and media development community are heard. Follow us and our conversations on Twitter using the hashtag #IGF2018 as well as #MediaDev, and for more information, see the Internet governance page of our Resource Centre. If you are interested in joining the working group, please contact us!

Post-IGF Update (23 November)

With the IGF behind us now, it’s time to reflect on the discussions, meetings held, and connections made. A highlight for us was the second annual Media Development and Internet Governance Symposium, which was held on Monday, 12 November. GFMD joined CIMA, DW Akademie, ARTICLE 19, and IMS to organise it, and we are grateful to UNESCO for hosting us. The meeting featured presentations by Guy Berger (UNESCO) and Elodie Vialle (RSF), and also saw us officially launch the issue paper we wrote collaboratively over the past nine months. The event centered around Ishara Denasakara (Vikalpa) and other voices from the Global South who shared their experiences, and discussed the increasing number of digital and political challenges to their work. We concluded by exploring ways to support them and where we should focus going forward.

Participants at the Symposium. Image credit: GFMD

Along with CIMA, DW Akademie, ARTICLE 19, and UNESCO, the event was attended by individual journalists and representatives from the following organisations:

  • BIRN Serbia
  • CELE Argentina
  • CFI
  • CMPF
  • Greenhost
  • IFLA
  • Internews Ukraine
  • IPS Venezuela
  • Media Diversity Institute
  • Media Foundation of West Africa
  • Media Matters for Democracy Pakistan
  • MISA Zimbabwe
  • Mozilla
  • OCCRP
  • RNW Media
  • RSF
  • Vikalpa
  • WAN-IFRA

For a more information about the event, check out this post by Lucien Steinberg writing on behalf of the Media Diversity Institute.

A roundtable discussion held at IGF 2018 regarding policies and solutions for countering misinformation online (WS 415). Image credit: Daniel O’Maley (CIMA)

In addition to the Symposium, GFMD held meetings with potential members, met with representatives from the Web Foundation about their Contract for their Web, as well as staff from the Global Network Initiative (GNI), and made new connections with individuals and organisations working around the world to preserve media plurality and Internet freedom. Overall, the week proved to be a fruitful and constructive, and was capped by GFMD’s participation in UNESCO’s open discussion on artificial intelligence titled “Harnessing Artificial Intelligence to Advance Knowledge Societies and Good Governance,” co-hosted with the Internet Society and Mozilla.

GFMD’s Advocacy and Engagement Manager, Michael J. Oghia, speaking at the UNESCO AI event on 15 November 2018. Image credit: Twitter

In light of our participation, GFMD released a post-IGF statement calling on the global Internet governance community to recognise the need for broader inclusion of journalism and news media community within the IGF and wider Internet governance ecosystem. It also encourages the MediaDev community to be more engaged in Internet governance bodies and processes. We encourage you to read the statement, share with your networks, and get involved.

Much more will be happening in the coming future in terms of coordinating our work, so let us know if you’re interested in getting involved!