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Editorial integrity: call for national bodies to track ‘fake news’ and propaganda

PACE has spelled out a series of steps to protect the editorial integrity of journalists and promote high professional standards in their field – including urging states to set up national observatories to track disinformation, propaganda and “fake news”.

Approving resolutions based on reports by Volodymyr Ariev (Ukraine, EPP/CD) and Elvira Drobinski-Weiss (Germany, SOC), the Assembly said the profession faced a whole series of challenges, including dramatically declining revenues, penalties for defamation, tighter controls on what can be reported, growing pressure to self-censor and direct physical threats. State authorities, meanwhile, were intervening more directly in the media sphere in various ways.

The parliamentarians called for solutions to tackle “the enormous imbalance in revenues between news media outlets and internet corporations”, suggesting that profits from digital advertising on search engines and social media could be re-invested in news reporting via changes to taxation and copyright.

They also called on internet companies to “take more editorial responsibility as publishers and not merely as digital platforms” and suggested that states consider legally banning “propaganda for war and advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”.