European Media and Information Literacy Forum in Riga.
Aidan White, Director, Ethical Journalism Network (http://www.ethicaljournalismnetwork.org) talked about Building trust in the digital age. He started by saying something about the activities of the EJN. Their investigation of coverage of migration issues showed problems in the way stories were reported. Media focused on two types of story: numbers (e.g. of migrants) and human stories. Media weaknesses were identified (e.g. stereotyping): this is in a background of changes. Companies are cutting the number of journalists, whilst the media is being more influenced by (or controlled by) the state and corporations, as well as citizens' online voice becoming more prominent (and helping to determine which stories are featured).
White felt that we were "hitting the limits of free expression" (in that abusive, violent etc. media are published openly on the web). White distinguished between journalism and free expression: journalism was constrained in that it had a public purpose and was "other regarding" (respecting others) with the core journalistic values of accuracy, independence, impartiality, humanity and accountability. White saw online expression as SELF-regarding rather than other-regarding (thus making a case for ensuring that there are journalists reporting on issues in an other-regarding way).
White noted some pernicious trends, notably manipulation and propaganising e.g. accepting "outrageous statements of political and community leaders as newsworthy without reporting in context". White also mentioned the world of polarising "likes and tweets", and stealth marketing (advertising posing as news).
He felt is was vital to strengthen journalism and editorial independence: this might seem obvious but it was very important. White also advocated more dialogue between stakeholders (journalists, academics and civic society) and more joint initiatives. He proposed ethical journalism as an inspiration for change.
The fourth speaker was Miomir Rajcevic, President, Media Education Centre, talked about Exponential Media and Information Era: his presentation will be available on the website http://www.mediaeducationcentre.eu/eng/ so I will be a bit lazy and refer you there.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Latvian National Library (the books are "favourite books" chosen and donated by Latvian citizens when the new library opened in 2014)