UNESCO conference — journalism under digital siege

(Photo: Envato Elements)
AMMAN — A UNESCO meeting tackled challenges posed by the digital age to press freedom, including the safety and security of journalists, access to information, and breach of privacy.اضافة اعلان

“Journalism under digital siege” conference, held in Jordan Sunday, was in celebration of World Press Freedom Day, marked every year on May 3.

A session entitled “Digital safety trends for journalists” dealt with the main digital security issues faced by journalists, measures to protect them from emerging digital threats and enable them to practice their profession without fear.

“A distinguished journalist is someone who has to struggle to tell the truth,” said Randa Habib, former Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Killing journalists has become widespread in the region, she said, insisting that “conditions must be improved so that journalists can cover more ground”.

“Journalists must realize that their profession puts their lives at risk,” Habib said, adding that in dictatorships, “the most dangerous thing that can be done is to tell the truth”.

Basil Al-Akour, editor-in-chief of Jo24, said publishing rights and limited freedom of expression in light of digital evolution are part of “many other challenges” facing journalists.

Foreign funding is a serious challenge, he maintained. “The current funding is for projects that have no impact on freedoms, community service, or professional practices, and do not get translated into real life,” he said. He asserted that international organizations must “study the reality of journalism in the country they want to fund”.

Better media tools and addressing self-censorship are essential to “improving the freedom of the press and media and ensuring that the profession is going in the right way”, Akour explained.

Khaled Waleed, digital transformation consultant at Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism, said challenges existed for a while, but “the mechanism of dealing with technology, awareness, and evaluation of information play an essential element in digital journalism”.

Users of digital technology, journalists included, may suffer from breach of privacy, due to lack of awareness and insufficient knowledge of its use, Waleed said.

He suggested protection methods, such as strong passwords, using VPN applications, and encrypting files on the used device after encrypting the device itself.

Another session entitled “Protecting journalists: defining responsibilities, best practices, global standards, and the future” discussed ways to develop mechanisms and systems of global standards to protect journalists in the digital space.

“International human rights play a significant role in creating a free environment for journalists,” said Human Rights Adviser to the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator Christina Meneke.

When it comes to human rights, “digital technologies are helpful, as they enable better access to databases”, she said.

Mirna Abu Zeid, dean of the Jordan Media Institute, said the world has adopted literacy programs in the digital world, “and it is important to adopt literacy in cyber safety, to understand the repercussions of the threat to the security and privacy of journalists on their work and on society”.

MP Dina Awni said digital information is a new concept. She stressed that “the Jordanian Constitution is a legal general umbrella guaranteeing freedom of opinion”.

Minister of Information Faisal Al-Shboul said that “our region needs more help to deal with wars and crises and to make democracy stronger”.

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