Editorial: The journalism of tomorrow without the ideas of yesterday

Since the IFJ’s creation in 1926, there has always been a good reason to think about the future of journalism, and this reason is most often linked to an economic crisis or a technological turning point. The Covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented event in our societies and it will have social and economic consequences that we have yet to fully understand. In this context, the IFJ is already looking to the future.

Credits: IFJ / Nathana Rebouças

The future of journalism is not just a casual matter; it is an imperative on us. Experts around the world have promised that the Covid-19 crisis, which has crippled nearly 4 billion people around the world, will radically change our lifestyles, the way we think, eat and behave. The top priority concerns an ambitious future plan which must save the planet.

However, it seems that all these good resolutions are already being ignored when many of the regions affected are lifting lockdown measures: the unequal and faceless economy is regaining its place as the sole driver of everyday life; social violence, hitherto confined, is increasing everywhere in the world; and the climate, which has had a short three-month respite, will still have to wait until a global agreement is reached.

Faced with this observation, the IFJ decided from the start to fight back, to prepare for the future and did not wait for long empty speeches to build a real recovery plan for the media sector by publishing its Global Platform for Quality Journalism and making it available to the profession.

This document, which has become a reference, received immediate support from all the global workers' federations, representing several hundred million members, and also from our affiliates around the world.

The most significant measure of that Platform is undoubtedly the creation of a tax on income generated in national territories by large digital platforms. This income is not only the one of the GAFAM which have, in addition, largely benefited from the world crisis to make even more profits. Last year, these profits were estimated at more than $ 900 billion. It is not an unfounded tax, but just a return to the source, the funding of independent and quality journalism that allows the maintenance of a true democracy everywhere in the world.

It’s a new business model. The future of journalism cannot be imagined without and it must first benefit journalists, who, it should be remembered, must work in complete safety, uphold the IFJ's Global Charter of Ethics and receive a decent pay.

The IFJ has called on all of its regional groups and affiliates to open negotiations with the governments and representatives of these major digital platforms, Google and Facebook in the first place, that pay no taxes in the various national jurisdictions, where they continue to make outrageous profits.

The IFJ's revival plan for quality journalism therefore proposes new funding for journalism which must be accompanied by ambitious political support in order to revitalize editorial staff and professional journalists (casual and freelancers included).

The IFJ demands that the revenue of this tax on digital giants benefit the public service media, the private media and the national and local media, provided that these companies respect social dialogue and the right to organise, in accordance with the conventions of the ILO; do not fire if the company makes a profit; make the annual accounts public and transparent; or demand the respect of diversity and of equality between women and men ...

There are many challenges facing the International Federation of Journalists for our profession and the IFJ alone cannot undertake everything. It must be able to rely on the support of all its members that want more justice and social equity.

Information should never be confined. Information must remain a public good.

There is no question of preparing the world of tomorrow with the ideas of yesterday. It is also the social responsibility of journalists and trade unionists.


IFJ General Secretary