Experts from Southeast Asian nations have identified key challenges facing media in their region. They propose three fundamental areas of action for civil society, governments and the media.
The expert 19-member group included researchers, media professionals and human rights defenders forming the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), namely Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Representatives from Timor Leste and Mongolia were also present.
DW Akademie, an organisation that supports the development of international media, reported the experts agreed on a three-step action plan called the “Jakarta Conclusions” which is aimed to enhance the situation for media in Southeast Asia.
The plan will require the collective efforts of civil society, media organisations and governments.
Jakarta Conclusions Action Plan:
- Take steps to develop a special regional mechanism to improve the media environment based on existing international and regional models.
- Create a process to engage the large global Internet intermediaries to address issues of access, accountability, sustainability, and the impact these companies have on media and society.
- Promote programs to expand media and information literacy at a sufficient scale to have impact at the societal level
1. Develop a regional mechanism for Southeast Asia
DW Akademie’s report stated that Southeast Asia does not have a special rapporteur for freedom of expression – whereas Latin America, Africa and Europe have active and independent representatives who advocate for information, expression and media rights.
Experts expressed that the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights has not pushed for this issue.
Therefore representatives from civil society organisations suggested establishing an informal mechanism in the absence of government support.
But others advocated to continue to push for an official mechanism, pointing out that Southeast Asia could learn from the Arab world which is currently seeking to establish a freedom of expression special rapporteur.
2. Engage the large global Internet intermediaries
DW Akademie reported companies such as Google and Facebook take a large share of online advertising revenue in Southeast Asia but do little to counter the spread of online hate speech, propaganda and disinformation.
Therefore experts suggested encouraging these platforms to develop a pricing system which differentiates between general information and quality journalism.
Maria Ressa, the former CNN lead investigative reporter in Asia said members need to work collectively.
“We need to come together and confront these and other companies with the situation in our region.”
3. Promote programs to expand media and information literacy
The growing importance of media users emphasised the importance of media and information literacy.
Hugo Maria Fernades of the Press Council of Timor Leste said such programs should enable the population to “actively and consciously” use media.