Press and Media Problems for the 2020s
Media and information literacy (MIL) is often emphasized in the face of technological breakthroughs, when policy and law-makers find themselves unable to tackle emerging problems. Therefore, MIL should be understood as part of a whole that includes legislation and reforms in media, education and other fields of relevance – as part of a democracy strategy . That is, a long-term benefit, not a short-term solution. This is a process that involves many different stakeholders in society, and combining extensive collaboration with proactive political leadership is a challenge.
This year’s Digital News Report  comes amid a complex set of challenges for the news industry specifically and for our media environment more broadly, including the ongoing disruption of inherited business models for news, constant evolution in how people use digital media (and the ways in which we are constantly reminded of how some of the information they come across is untrustworthy and sometimes spread with malicious intent), and social upheaval associated with the rise of populism and with low trust in many institutions.
Fake news as a phenomenon is not new and has been known since ancient times, but the present-day proliferation of digital and social media platforms, which allow for much broader distribution of information to a global audience, makes the need to counter fake news much more acute . This report examines the legal approaches of fifteen countries, representing all regions of the world, to the emerging problem of manipulation with fake news using mass and social media, especially the impact on ongoing political processes and elections, and the legislative measures undertaken to counteract the dissemination of false information.
The autonomy and independence of the media across much of Europe is under threat from politicians, who launch verbal attacks on journalists, but also from other journalists, who discredit and smear colleagues working for rival publications . Several countries in Central and Eastern Europe have dropped fast down various press freedom indices, most notably Poland and Hungary. In Slovakia, the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová created a public uproar that led eventually to the resignation of the prime minister and several ministers, but it also highlighted the physical threats facing journalists who investigate corruption and organized crime.
It seems that the role of country of residence of the communication professional has increased between 2007 and 2016, not for every aspect of the profession but especially for the use of mass media, social media, and interpersonal communication and for strategic issues. Strikingly, these effects were not found for the use of owned media, nor for excellence in communication. It seems that aspects that are more directly connected to the organization itself, like communication through owned media and the pursuit of excellence, are less influenced by country of residence than the other aspects . Country and age are not predictors for the use of owned media or the perception of excellence.
Starting from such general references, this booklet identifies ten relevant areas from very recent contributions put forward at academic level in the form journal articles, conference proceedings and students theses. Ten freely accessible internet references have been selected for each area and direct links are provided at the end of each chapter for own consultation. Our selected references do not intend to mirror ranking indexes nor establish novel classifications. On the contrary, they are meant to represent peer-reviewed, diverse and scientifically-sound case studies for vertical dissemination aimed at non-specialist readers. They will also be able to scoop even more references through the bibliography that is reported at the end of each selected reference.
Without further ado, these are the “Ten Problems for Press and Media in the 2020s” that we are going to introduce in this booklet:
- artificial intelligence,
- staff issues,
Each problem has its own dedicated chapter made of an introductory section, a short presentation of the ten selected references and a conclusions section.
The final chapter of this booklet will report the conclusions from each chapter again in order to provide a complete executive summary.
GENERAL REFERENCES CITED
 U. Carlsson (ed.), “Understanding Media and Information Literacy (MIL) in the Digital Age”, 2019, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, ISBN 978-91-88212-89-4 , online at https://jmg.gu.se/digitalAssets/1742/1742676_understanding-media-pdf-original.pdf
 N. Newman et al., “Digital News Report 2019”, 2019, Reuters Institute University of Oxford, online at https://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid:18c8f2eb-f616-481a-9dff-2a479b2801d0/download_file?file_format=pdf&safe_filename=reuters_institute_digital_news_report_2019.pdf&type_of_work=Report
 P. Roudik et al., “Initiatives to Counter Fake News in Selected Countries”, 2019, Library of Congress, United States, online at https://www.loc.gov/law/help/fake-news/counter-fake-news.pdf
 M. Seelva, “Fighting Words: Journalism Under Assault in Central and Eastern Europe”, 2020, Reuters Institute University of Oxford, online at https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2020-01/MSelva-Journalism_Under_Assault_FINAL_0.pdf
 P. Verhoeven et al., “Strategic Communication across Borders: Country and Age Effects in the Practice of Communication Professionals in Europe”, 2020, International Journal of Strategic Communication, 14:1, 60-72, DOI: 10.1080/1553118X.2019.1691006, online at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/1553118X.2019.1691006