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UNESCO training for press councils of South East Europe and Turkey on online media ethics

Sarajevo, June, 29th, 2016 (UNESCO). Recently, representatives of the press councils from South East Europe and Turkey gathered in Bosnia and Herzegovina to explore the legal and ethical complexities of journalism and public-interest reporting in the digital age. The training was hosted by the Press Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as part of the UNESCO EU-funded Project “Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey”.

Many topics were discussed, such as the status of journalists in the digital age, the measures in place to ensure the quality and accuracy of information online as well as rights, responsibilities and protection mechanisms for bloggers and civil society campaigners engaged in “acts of journalism”.

The first day of the training focused on the fundamentals of digital journalism. Dean Starkman, a media analyst and Center for Media and Society (CMDS) fellow, held a session on the collapse of the business model of news industry and the consequences for the quality of media content, while Amy Brouillette, Director of European Media Project at CMDS, presented the complex evolution of the international standards related to the definition of journalism.

During the second day, the trainers “tackled the complex and evolving issue of media ethics and professional standards in the new media environment. Participants explored how to adapt and refine self-regulatory codes to account for today’s digital media landscape. Participants worked on concrete case studies and discussed how the rights and duties of traditional media are extended to online platforms and digital content producers.”

Gillian Phillips, director of Editorial Legal Services of the Guardian, presented concrete examples from The Guardian, which is faced with cross-border issues having offices based not only in London but in the United-States for instance.

Discussions focused on copyrights issues, on user-generated content in media content and on the corrections of mistakes in the online world, and proved the complexity for press councils to address those questions. So far, most press councils are dealing with issues on a case by case basis and more questions were brought than concrete solutions.

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