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DW's Global Media Forum 2024: Media industry under pressure

June 16, 2024

At DW's upcoming Global Media Forum, participants from around the world will discuss threats to journalists, disinformation, and how artificial intelligence is changing things.

Annalena Baerbock speaking at the GMF 2024
Germany's foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, gave the keynote address at the Global Media Forum 2024.Image: Björn Kietzmann/DW

"Sharing Solutions" is the motto of DW's 2024 edition of the Global Media Forum. Around 1,500 media professionals from over 100 countries — including many in the global south — will gather together from June 17–18th in Bonn. The goal will be to identify solutions to the pressing questions facing journalism and media today, around the world.

DW Events Manager Benjamin Pargan outlines the forum's main points, which include: the safety of media professionals — physical, psychological, legal or economic; election reporting — because elections in India, the EU and the US, for example, are turning 2024 into a global "super election" year; how to deal with disinformation campaigns; and how the rapid development of artificial intelligence is affecting journalists' daily work.

Media facing pressure from many sides

Pargan says that free, balanced reporting is now experiencing multifaceted pressures: "There are state actors who want to damage trust in the media and journalists. Populist and extremist political parties also view high quality media as enemies — and they are deliberately trying to destroy trust in them." In addition, he says, topics such as technological developments, economic pressures and the constant danger that journalists face in war zones, will all be part of the forum discussions.

Maria Ressa: AI, deep fakes 'threaten democracy'

In a pre-recorded greeting, Premier Hendrik Wüst — the head of government for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the forum's host state — admitted that Germany, itself, is not immune to some of these problems: "Here, too, radical forces are fighting the freedom and independence of press and broadcasters. Those who oppose our democracy deny the facts. They rely on fake news and lies, on stirring up emotions, on hatred and incitement. We must counter that with the power of argument, with the courage to argue, and with passion for freedom and democracy." The GMF offers a perfect platform for exchange, says Wüst.

Many positive examples

Journalists also say that some users are feeling overwhelmed by information — especially negative news — due to the flood of media offerings, a topic that will also be addressed at the GMF. The deluge of problems might make media representatives feel overwhelmed. But there will also be many examples of positive action presented by global professionals at GMF.

For example, Maria Ressa, who is a journalist from the Philippines. She fights disinformation via Rappler, her online news organization. Ressa received the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for her "efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace." Another example is Moky Makura, a Nigerian journalist and publicist: through her organization, Africa No Filter, she questions harmful and clichéd narratives about Africa, while highlighting the continent's achievements and opportunities. And yet another example is Nada Bashir, a CNN reporter: she has made a name for herself through her reports on the wars in the Gaza Strip and Ukraine.

The GMF will include a great variety of lectures and discussions. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is due to deliver a keynote speech, which will be followed by a debate on "The Power of Democracy." Former South African Constitutional Court judge Albie Sachs will speak on the issue of: "From Controversy to Compromise — the Search for Common Ground in Polarized Times." The sensitive topic of how journalists can appropriately report on the Middle East conflict will also be addressed.

AI is changing many things — for better and worse

Artificial intelligence is becoming an increasingly important subject, especially in the media sector. It opens up vast new possibilities for media — for instance, the ability to research. But it also opens up tremendous risks for expoitation.

"This development is irreversible," says Benjamin Pargan. "Media entities should be helping to shape things, rather than opposing them. But at the same time, they should be correctly assessing and classifying the opportunities and risks. We want our discussions with colleagues from around the world to highlight examples of best practice, and to have frank exchanges, so that we will be able to define both the opportunities, and the risks."

Introducing the DW Global Media Forum

But the implementation of AI is also dividing the world. AI can potentially "turn our media system upside down. It can destroy business models, promote disinformation, and undermine trust in society," according to the GMF program. But AI can also be used to increase access to information and digital participation." The GMF would also like to spotlight how people in the global south can profit from the benefits of artificial intelligence.

The Global Media Forum presents a vision of the future in a video, that says: "Imagine a world of freedom of speech and press, and free access to information for all." Then, people are encouraged to: "Stop dreaming! Let's act! At the DW Global Media Forum in Bonn. Participants from all around the world want to share their solutions with us, and shape the journalism of tomorrow! Get involved!"

This article was originally written in German.

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