Read the original text at 112.ua.
Modern media have faced a number of challenges, in some countries state-owned media have turned into propaganda machines for spreading fake news. The level of public trust to the journalists has dropped dramatically. European states should review their legislation and ... continue to resist the disinformation, which, in particular, comes from the Russian side. This is stated in the PACE resolution (2212) "Protection of editorial integrity", unanimously adopted on April 25.
An interesting point in this context is that the only country mentioned in terms of propaganda, fake news, and disinformation is Russia.
The PACE recalls that media are accountable to the public and therefore must adhere to high editorial standards and codes. They should be truthful, accurate, independent, fair, and impartial. In this context, the Assembly supports the Declaration of Principles on the Conduct of Journalists.
At the same time, the PACE recognizes that the media have recently faced a number of challenges: the emergence of new Internet media and the rapid dissemination of information.
"The reduced audience and less profitable obsolete business models, but also increased threats from organized crime, terrorism, and armed conflicts, compromise both the independence of the media and their editorial integrity," the text of the resolution says.
It is noted that the laws on the criminal liability of journalists for defamation are effective in most countries. In this regard, the threat of fines and imprisonment is another obstacle for investigative journalism. The Assembly emphasizes that journalists and the media should be able to freely investigate and publish their materials without fear of violence or other acts on the part of the authorities.
"Assembly is concerned that in an environment where several member States have assumed extra surveillance and law-enforcement powers in the name of countering terrorism and protecting the public, the media’s capacity to conduct difficult and lengthy investigations, relying on confidential sources of information, has been significantly reduced," as said in the document.
It is noted that journalists are increasingly threatened, harassed, intimidated, monitored, imprisoned, physically attacked, tortured and even killed.
In addition, the Assembly is concerned that in some states authorities directly interfere with the media sphere, not only through ownership but also through the distribution of licenses, the promotion of selected media and the negative impact on others.
The resolution notes that in some cases, the state media have been turned into propaganda tools and are used to broadcast fake news or incite hatred against minorities and other "vulnerable" groups.
"This leads to a lack of independence and low ethical standards of a number of media outlets and explains the increasing lack of trust from the public. In this respect, the Assembly reaffirms its support for the decision of the European Council 2015 to counteract a stream of disinformation and inflammatory falsehoods emanating from media outlets and online accounts in the Russian Federation by setting up the East StratCom Task Force. It furthermore welcomes the Joint Declaration by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and three regional rapporteurs in 2017, affirming that State actors should not make, sponsor or disseminate disinformation or propaganda," the resolution says.
The Assembly considers that in the present challenging context, the need for journalists to protect their editorial integrity and to keep high professional and ethical standards has become particularly topical. Consequently, the Assembly recommends that member States:
- fully implement Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)4 on the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists and other media actors, with a view to fulfilling their positive obligation to protect media professionals and guarantee freedom of the media;
- actively support the goals of the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, which calls on State authorities to put an end to impunity for physical and verbal attacks against journalists and create a safe and enabling environment for the media to do their work;
- fully respect Council of Europe standards regarding independence and pluralism of public service media, putting an end to the widespread attempts to influence them or to turn them into government media;
- review their national legislation on:
- defamation and its practical application in accordance with Assembly Resolution 1577 (2007)and with a view to ensuring its compatibility with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5);
- extra surveillance and law-enforcement powers in the name of countering terrorism and protecting the public, with a view to safeguarding the capacity for media to play their watchdog role;
- regulatory authorities in the media field, with a view to ensuring – via their independence vis-à-vis political and economic forces – increased transparency of media ownership and media content diversity;
- examine the issue of the enormous imbalance in revenues between news media outlets and internet corporations, and find legal and practical solutions to rectify this imbalance, including by:
- channeling some of the great profits from digital advertising placed on search engines and social media back to the media that invest mainly in reporting the news; this could be done for example via changes in taxation and copyright rules;
- finding appropriate ways for the internet companies to take more editorial responsibility as publishers and not merely as digital platforms;
- legally prohibit propaganda for war and advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence;
- consider establishing a national observatory to track dissemination of disinformation, propaganda and fake news and propose adequate measures to counteract these phenomena.
The Assembly invites media professionals and media outlets to:
- increase voluntary adherence to, and respect for, professional codes of ethics in order to maintain high journalistic standards and editorial integrity, and restore public trust in the media;
- use their effective right to refuse to carry out work that infringes on their professional ethical codes and editorial integrity;
- maintain a clear separation between the activities of their editorial staff and the work of their advertising and commercial departments; clear rules should be followed to avoid conflicts of interest and self-censorship;
- develop internal oversight mechanisms such as a readers editor or ombudsperson, as well as self-regulatory mechanisms, to ensure that persons considering themselves targets of unreasonable press intrusion and inaccurate reporting have ready access to an effective system of complaints and redress, while safeguarding editorial integrity and independence;
- establish or strengthen responsibility for disseminating fake news, to flag such false information whenever it appears either in traditional or social media and, in this connection, develop within the profession strong and tight co-operation in combating disinformation, propaganda and fake news;
- organize adequate training to enhance journalists’ skills to meet editorial challenges, including skills regarding data management and other technologies, and their knowledge of journalists’ rights and duties under the domestic and international law.
The Assembly invites:
- the European Federation of Journalists to promote awareness of the issues raised in this resolution among its members and to facilitate exchanges of experience and good practices regarding editorial integrity and high-quality journalism;
- the European Broadcasting Union to continue to promote its Editorial Principles and Guidelines and to encourage European public service media to fully implement them, keeping in mind their particular role in a democratic society as an independent source of unbiased, accurate and relevant information and diverse political opinions;
- the Alliance of Independent Press Councils of Europe to strengthen coordination among its members, in order to raise ethical and professional standards in Europe, facilitate complaints procedures across borders and raise awareness among the public;
- the Ethical Journalism Network to continue advocating among journalists editorial integrity and transparency, while at the same time warning against unprofessional and unethical behavior that is contrary to professional ethics.