By MARK PEARSON Follow @Journlaw
The project is titled the ‘UNESCO Internet Study: Privacy and Journalists’ Sources’ and is led by respected Australian journalism academic and WAN-IFRA/World Editors Forum Research Fellow Julie Posetti.
I am honoured to sit on the Review Panel for the study, along with researchers from the US, South Africa, Italy, Thailand, Uganda and India.
According to WAN-IFRA, the research has these objectives and questions:
1. Map legal protections for journalists’ sources globally (What laws exist globally to support journalists’ ethical obligation to protect their sources from unmasking?)
2. Assess the effectiveness of these protections in the digital media context of 2014
3. Identify international case studies that demonstrate issues/problems/best practice
4. Establish the potential consequences of this shifting landscape for acts of investigative journalism
5. Make recommendations to UNESCO.
Key research questions:
1. Is it possible to keep journalists’ sources confidential in the digital age?
2. What laws exist globally to support journalists’ ethical obligation to protect their sources from unmasking?
3. To whom do these laws apply? (Bloggers, tweeters, whistleblowers who ‘go direct’?)
4. How are legal and institutional protections being adapted to digital realities?
5. What are the potential consequences of this shifting landscape for acts of investigative journalism?
6. How should we respond (as states, as journalists/editors/publishers, as legal experts, as civil society organisations etc)?
The project is being conducted by the World Editors Forum for UNESCO, under an umbrella project funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The results of the Posetti study will inform the wider UNESCO Internet Issues study. The study report will ultimately be published by UNESCO within an update of its UNESCO World Trends report.
An earlier story on the project launch gave more detail.
Please go ahead and complete the survey and, by doing so, add to the international knowledge about the fate of journalists and their sources in the digital era.
The research then goes to its second phase involving qualitative interviews with sources central to the project.
The team also encourages you to discuss the project on Twitter using the handles @julieposetti, @fedecherubini, @newspaperworld and the hashtag #SourcesStudy.
© Mark Pearson 2014
Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.