2019 World Press Freedom Day: Journalism in times of disinformation

On this year’s World Press Freedom Day 3 May we will be shining the spotlight on media in election time and Artificial Intelligence in journalism at the annual UNESCO conference marking the day, this year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

This year’s annual UNESCO conference on World Press Freedom Day 2 – 3 May is held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. IMS will be shining the spotlight on media in election time and Artificial Intelligence in journalism.

The relationship between the press and democracy will be the main theme of this year’s edition of World Press Freedom Day (3 May) jointly organized by UNESCO, the Ethiopian government and the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), from 1 to 3 May. More than one hundred events will also take place around the world in observance of the day.

How can journalism rise above emotional content and fake news during an election? What should be done to counter speeches demeaning journalists? To what extent should electoral regulations be applied to the internet? This year’s World Press Freedom Day, whose theme is “Media for Democracy, Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation”, will be the occasion to reflect on these current issues.

The relationship between media and law enforcement is sometimes wrought with difficulties and lack of mutual trust during elections. So what happens when you place members of both parties around a table? The IMS and Media Foundation West Africa session on 1 May on “Best practices on elections reporting: When stakeholders come together”, offers a view into the dynamics at play and how to break down stereotypical, predetermined views of one another.

We hear from both police and journalists on how improving relations between the two helped support peaceful elections. In Zimbabwe, the capacity and content of media towards the 2018 elections were strengthened. The Norwegian fact-checker Faktisk.no cooperated closely with Facebook to fight disinformation during the country’s elections. Experience will be shared with an elections-related language monitoring project that focused on the issue of media and hate speech during elections in Ghana.

On 2 May, UNESCO and IMS have assembled a panel of experts for a discussion on the impact of artificial intelligence (AI)on the way journalistic content is produced, disseminated, and consumed; thus (re)shaping the communications landscape and impacting on media freedom, including in critical times such as elections. AI broadly refers to machines that can go beyond their explicit programming by making choices that mirror human reasoning – automating decisions that humans used to make. AI can strengthen the free flow of information and journalistic activity, but it can also be used to replace human journalistic work as well as amplify both disinformation  – that is, deliberately constructed falsehoods – and misinformation, which lacks malicious intent. This session will examine the AI’s implications for the journalistic profession, ethical considerations in the news room and freedom of expression, especially in times of elections. 

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