Nighat Dad, Executive Director of Digital Rights Foundation and Member of Meta’s Independent Oversight Board, presented a new deal for journalism to several State Ministers as a Vice Chair of the Forum of Information and Democracy alongside UNGA 2022.
During her presentation, Dad called on governments to commit upto 1% of their official development assistance to the sustainability of independent journalism. She called for concrete actions which included:
- Subsidies, direct and indirect through independent intermediaries
- Full transparency of government advertising
- Ensuring public service media is an independent entity, free from political interference to command broad support creating a stable environment.
Many member states have already allocated massive amount to International Fund for Public Interest Media (IFPIM) but Dad raised a concern about Pakistan’s lack of participation.
“Pakistan was not included in the first call for proposals. We are hoping that Pakistan will be included in the future rounds for applying for projects or funding,” said Dad. In an exclusive interview with The Friday Times, another challenge that Dad raised about IFPIM funding that they had put up a condition that for a media organisation to be eligible it needed to show it had USD 50,000 annual income which means that small media digital houses are unable to apply. She spoke about the need to make the eligibility criteria more flexible to enable smaller media houses participation.
Her presentation speech is as follows:
“Dear excellencies, dear colleagues, dear friends,
When we drafted the Declaration on Information and Democracy in 2018, we highlighted that “The social function of journalism justifies an effort by societies to ensure journalism financial sustainability.”
Today, independent journalism is facing a crisis of historic proportions. The current structure of the information and communication space weakens journalism given that we cannot distinguish between trustworthy journalism and other types of information. Facing unfair competition, and disruptions in their business models, news sources that respect ethical and professional norms of journalism are at risk.
Defending journalism and ensuring its sustainability allows for checks and balances in democracy while also empowering people to fully participate in society and in the public debate which must be based on facts, and should not be the result of a manipulative process by malign actors.
This is why, we, at the Forum on Information and Democracy, call on a concerted action to overcome these challenges, a New Deal for journalism.
As presented in our report published in June 2021, this New Deal would require an effort of all relevant stakeholders – governments, public funders, advertisers, digital platforms, and media entities themselves – to ensure a holistic approach to the sustainability of journalism.
Governments should take the appropriate measures that would ensure 0.1% of GDP to the sustainability of independent journalism. This amount would be utterly transformative and could greatly enhance the quality and diversity of news coverage globally.
Concrete actions, such as subsidies, whether direct or through independent intermediaries; full transparency of government advertising; and ensuring that public service media are genuinely independent from political interference can command broad political and public support to ensure a stable environment.
At the International level, we need to increase the level of global development aid drastically. We call on governments to commit up to 1% of their official development assistance to the sustainability of journalism. Innovative mechanisms are being built to that end such as the International Fund for Public Interest Media with which the Forum has signed a memorandum of understanding to join forces.
Government action, political will, is crucial but will not resolve the extinction of trustworthy journalism we are witnessing. We ask you, member-states of the Partnership for Information and Democracy, to call on all relevant stakeholders, and primarily digital platforms and advertisers, to act responsibly and ensure the promotion and sustainability of journalism. With that I will request Christophe the chair of the forum to take this discussion forward with honourable ministers.”