Championing Primary Source Journalism in an Era of Misinformation

///Championing Primary Source Journalism in an Era of Misinformation

Championing Primary Source Journalism in an Era of Misinformation

NMC CEO Andy Moger Addressing the Council of Europe CDMSI Plenary

In a world increasingly dominated by synthetic content and misinformation, the authenticity and reliability of Primary Source Journalism (PSJ) stand as vital pillars of democracy and informed public discourse, says News Media Coalition (NMC) CEO Andrew Moger.

On June 19, 2024, Andy Moger, CEO of the News Media Coalition (NMC), delivered a compelling address at the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI) Plenary Session.  Moger’s speech emphasized the urgent need to protect and promote the practice of PSJ, which involves journalists being on the ground to report on events as they unfold. He articulated how the NMC and its member organizations are dedicated to ensuring that these essential newsgathering activities continue unabated in the face of growing challenges.

Defining Primary Source Journalism

Moger began his presentation by emphasising the critical, yet often underappreciated, role of Primary Source Journalism in maintaining media freedom and democracy. He introduced PSJ as the cornerstone of authentic news reporting, where professional journalists are present on the scene, capturing firsthand accounts of events through written reports, photography, and video.

“Primary Source Journalism is the on-the-ground reporting of newsworthy current affairs by professional journalists with the purpose of better informing society. The creation of written reports, photography, and video news material relies on journalists being able to witness news events of public interest and to access information about them,” Moger explained.

The Unique Value of NMC Members

Moger proceeded to describe the News Media Coalition’s unique position within the media industry. The NMC comprises long-established major news publishers and agencies that employ thousands of reporters dedicated to everyday, independent newsgathering.

“Our members are part of ‘the media’ industry but form a distinctive sector with unique societal value,” Moger stated. He emphasized that these members are integral to the dissemination of trustworthy news and information, serving as the frontline fact-checkers in a world increasingly saturated with misinformation.

Practical Challenges in PSJ

In highlighting the various forms of PSJ, Moger painted a vivid picture of its broad and diverse scope.

“Primary Source Journalism occurs around politics, protests, natural disasters, conflicts, business affairs, and legal proceedings as well as at organized cultural, sports, show business, and civic events. PSJ includes interviews with high-profile figures, personalities, and members of the public who have participated in or witnessed such events,” Moger said.

Moger illustrated the practical challenges that journalists face in the field. He posed critical questions about the current environment for journalists: “At a hyper-practical level, can news journalists today attend political election rallies to ask questions about promises to the electorate? Could reporters at the European football championships meaningly ask players about their interventions into social and political issues, such as French captain Kylian Mbappé’s encouragement to young people to vote against nationalism? Will journalists be able to capture video reports of the historic Paris Olympic Opening Ceremony along the River Seine, and therefore outside an Olympic stadium? Can journalists attend public gatherings—both protests and cultural events—to report on matters of interest such as public safety, organizational failings and, more positively, general trends in society?”.

The Societal Importance of PSJ

Moger stressed the indispensable societal value of PSJ. In a media landscape increasingly fraught with synthetic content and disinformation, PSJ provides trustworthy, real-time accounts that form the bedrock of local, national, and global knowledge about current affairs and social change.

“Primary Source Journalism is a vital, consistent, and high-value societal asset providing trustworthy, real-time, and authentic accounts in a world of harmful synthetic content and disinformation. It is the bedrock of local, national, and global knowledge about current affairs, influence, and social change,” Moger asserted.

He also highlighted how PSJ reporters serve as society’s frontline fact-checkers, delivering accurate news through a longstanding network of trusted news brands to today’s consumers.

NMC’s Commitment to Protecting PSJ

Moger detailed the NMC’s multifaceted approach to safeguarding PSJ. The coalition ensures journalists’ access to newsworthy events, challenges censorship, and engages with various stakeholders to maximize opportunities for journalists and establish best practices.

“The NMC safeguards journalist attendance in and around newsworthy events, uniquely challenges censorship on Primary Source Journalism, and engages with institutions, the private sector, and other organizations to maximize opportunities for journalists and establish best practices,” Moger explained.

PSJ’s Role in European Media Freedom

Linking PSJ to broader European media freedom concerns, Moger referenced important recommendations from the Council of Europe and the European Commission. He noted that these bodies recognize the essential role of journalists in accessing information, acting as public watchdogs, and facilitating open and vigorous public debate.

“Primary Source Journalism is the reliable antidote to Generative AI—it is what really happens in the world,” Moger said. He underscored that everyday PSJ newsgathering is crucial for tackling disinformation, providing citizens with a deep understanding of current events, and countering polarized debates.

A Call to Action

Concluding his address, Moger called on the Council of Europe to take concrete steps to support and enable PSJ. He advocated for declarations of support for PSJ, a thorough evaluation of the threats to everyday newsgathering, and actionable measures to protect PSJ at both the European and national levels.

“Our invitation to the Council of Europe is to take steps to protect and enable everyday newsgathering: Declarations of support for ‘PSJ,’ evaluating how far everyday newsgathering is under threat, and concrete action to protect Primary Source Journalism at European and national levels,” Moger urged.

Andy Moger’s address at the CDMSI Plenary underscores the critical need to protect and promote Primary Source Journalism. In a time when the veracity of information is under threat, the NMC’s advocacy for PSJ is more crucial than ever.

For more details on the NMC’s activities and their impact on journalism, visit NMC’s official website.

About the News Media Coalition (NMC):
The NMC is an international consortium of leading news agencies and media organizations dedicated to promoting and protecting the interests of Primary Source Journalism.

About the Council of Europe’s CDMSI:
The Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI) is responsible for steering the Council of Europe’s work in the field of media and information society, ensuring that freedom of expression and media freedom are protected across Europe.


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