Presidential 2022: Reporters Without Borders presents ten proposals in favor of journalism



While the deputies Paula Forteza (The Republic on the move) and Matthieu Orphelin (Ecology democracy solidarity) present this February 9 a legislative proposal aimed in particular at strengthening the power of the editorial stafftaken from the book Information is a public good. Refounding media ownership (Seuil) by economist Julia Cagé and jurist Benoît Huet – Reporters Without Borders (RSF) makes ten proposals for candidates for the highest office.

→ REREAD. Media concentration: a commission and proposals on the table

“We are going to present our demands to the candidates, explains the secretary general of RSF, Christophe Deloire, in a press release. These measures “respond concretely and sustainably to the current information disorders. The question of the right to information, a fundamental right of all French citizens, must go beyond partisan logic and be at the heart of the concerns of each of the candidates and of the future President of the Republic”.

Protecting “the social function of journalism”

Some of these proposals take up initiatives or recommendations already formulated at the international level within the framework of the Forum on Information and Democracy, an equivalent for information of the IPCC (group of experts on climate). As the “New Deal for Journalism” of which RSF proposes a national transposition with 0.1% of the GDP invested each year to guarantee the“future of the social function of journalism”.

An investment that would be part of a new regulatory framework where all information producers, regulators or digital broadcasters would be called upon to “guaranteeing the right to information and protecting democracy in the digital age”. This “refounding law” would establish in particular “responsibility regimes of the various actors”in particular digital platforms whose algorithms are accused of favoring the most emotional and divisive content.

Promote reliable information

In the same spirit, RSF calls for“impose the obligation to promote the reliability of information for digital platforms through the “Journalism Trust initiative (1). This international collaborative initiative, launched in April 2018 to combat misinformation, aims to “promote information produced according to professional methods and ethical rules of journalism”. This should be better valued by the algorithms of the platforms.

This initiative, in which the media (AFP, BBC, The Guardian…), academics or the Gafam (Facebook, Google, etc.), obtained in November 2021 the support of the States participating in the Paris Forum for Peace. A standard has been enacted under the aegis of the European Committee for Standardization, and the media who wish to do so have the possibility of carrying out a self-assessment with a view to certification.

Safeguards against concentration

While the senatorial commission of inquiry continues its hearings on media concentration, RSF proposes “a new legislation for the independence of the media and the limitation of vertical concentrations” (upstream and downstream of a sector). Like many observers, the NGO considers that the 1986 law which governs the audiovisual sector is obsolete, with in particular concentration thresholds which do not take into account the weekly press and publishing.

The NGO also suggests the creation of an offense of influence peddling applied to the field of information, in order to“prevent conflicts of interest and corruption of content”with criminal sanctions for shareholders who intervene in the content “to further their interests or the interests of third parties”.

Better protections for journalists

Other measures propose to strengthen the existing laws on the protection of the secrecy of journalistic sources (for example by repealing the offense of concealment of professional secrecy) or journalists who cover the demonstrations (with more severe sanctions and made public), or to dissuade the “gag procedures” (with punitive measures for the perpetrators of these abusive complaints to discourage investigation).

Finally, at the international level, RSF calls on candidates “to make the defense of freedom of the press and the reliability of information a major focus of French diplomacy”notably by devoting 1% of official development assistance to supporting independent media.

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