New guidelines on the duties and responsibilities of old and new media providers are being prepared by the Council of Europe.
The recommendations would provide “practical guidance” on how Council of Europe standards, developed for traditional forms of mass communication, could apply to new media outlets.
Governments, faced by a rapidly changing media landscape, will be encouraged to sign up to these recommendations, Jan Kleijssen, the Director of Standard Setting, told a 27 January UNESCO conference on media ethics and self regulation.
He said the development of codes of ethics and self regulation for the media were among the organisation’s priorities, made necessary by the emergence of new and powerful information providers and platforms. Consultations will begin within weeks with search engines, social networking services and “other actors” concerning the “protection of fundamental rights and freedoms in the new media environment.”
Kleijssen said: “New modes of content creation and expression, as well as seeking and imparting information in a mass-communication setting, reinforce but may also challenge fundamental rights and freedoms.
“Certain new players however, seem to consider that the agreed rules do not apply to them. They claim that journalistic ethics or media responsibilities are for others only. That they are mere intermediaries or facilitators without any editorial role which is entirely left to so-called legacy media and to the users.”
Kleijssen said there was no certainty that the “new media actors” would “discharge the role of ethical responsible information gatekeepers.”
He added: “the importance of new media actors in our society is increasing. So is the need for certainty about their rights and responsibilities. Every effort has to be made to ensure that freedom of expression and freedom of the media and internet freedom are preserved.”