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Wits to lead flagship Unesco research

- Wits University

UNESCO-funded World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development report will aim to understand how global media have been changing.

Wits, the University of Oxford, and the University of Pennsylvania are leading a UNESCO-funded study to understand how global media have been changing and how they are re-shaping our everyday lives.

The project is led for Wits by Dr Iginio Gagliardone and will network academic institutions and scholars across the globe to produce the next “World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development” Report, UNESCO’s leading publication seeking to inform research and policy in the field of Communication and Information.

The 2017 edition of the report comes at a critical juncture. Demands are growing for a greater inclusion of perspectives from the Global South in research, education, and policy.

Responding to these demands the research team will seek to blend core areas identified in the 1991 UNESCO’s Windhoek Declaration, including media freedom, journalist safely, information pluralism and media independence, with a renovated focus on 1) rising inequalities; 2) efforts to provide universal Internet connectivity; and 3) hate speech online and efforts to counter it.

The study has been ranked by UNESCO’s Board as “flagship publication”. This is the first time for research in the Communication and Information Sector to acquire UNESCO’s highest status.

It will be launched at UNESCO’s 39th General Conference in November 2017, but the research team will make ongoing outcomes available on a dedicated website from the beginning of 2017. This will allow scholars, policy makers, students, and activists to make use of emerging findings, provide feedback and contribute to ongoing efforts.