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Information Inequality: How to Rebalance the Information Landscape Globally

24 May 2018
Информационное неравенство: как сбалансировать информационную картину мира


Information inequality is an urgent sociopolitical problem

«An information picture of the world often proves to be inaccurate and distorted, overloaded with bias and warped judgments. As a result, we have a serious problem of ensuring the full value and completeness of the information picture we get,» believes Andrei Bystritsky, Chairman of the Board at the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club; Professor at the National Research University Higher School of Economics.

Balance must be restored

«All the media have always faced this problem. Over the course of time, we have received new opportunities for resolving this problem in the 21st century. <...> We are already moving towards equality,» stated Seyyed Zia Hashemi, Director General of the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

«Information inequality has always existed. The actual monopoly of the Anglo-Saxon media has been a constant factor for many years. Appearance of other media has started bringing this information into balance,» explained Margarita Simonyan, Chief Editor of RT Channel and Chief Editor of International Information Agency Rossiya Segodnya.

«This lack of balance has always existed. This information imbalance has not emerged on its own; it is a reflection of imbalance in other spheres, above all, in the global economy and other fields,» considers Erlan Karin, Chairman of the Board of RTRK Kazakhstan.


Information inequality has spatial, cultural, gender and other aspects

«There is a lot of information inequality in the world now. Some countries, some regions and events that happen there are not covered so often,» admitted Bin Li, Deputy Director of China Global Television Network (CGTN-NEWS).

«This also involves problems related to gender inequality; the way different people participate in the process of creating and spreading information. And one more question is about languages,» added Juan Maria Calvo Roy, International Relations Adviser to the President of EFE Spanish News Agency.

Information inequality threatens the world

«These wars are always fought without rules, but sometimes we can see battles without any rules at all, so to say, when all resources are used, when this or that country, using its dominant position <...> tries not exactly to impose the picture (it has always been like that) but to destroy every opportunity for the emergence of other voices,» said Erlan Karin.

«We do not believe that decades of the absolute monopoly by western media, their absolute hold over audiences across the globe have brought this world anything good. They have led this world to annual wars. <...> Politicians supported by this media chorus unilaterally take awful, harmful, idiotic decisions because no one contradicts them,» argued Margarita Simonyan.

«Earlier, journalists pursued the goal of providing information, creating pictures of the day, yet today, the media have become a tool of violence,» continued Erlan Karin.

«They, the members of this mainstream, don’t want to allow others to grow. This is clear to all of us. And this hegemony is known to everyone; we understand that, behind them, are strong powers that want to control the world as they wish,» added Seyyed Zia Hashemi.

«A huge number of both ordinary people and people representing the elite <...> found themselves in a raging sea of unchecked, inaccurate, often false and contradictory information. How to develop navigation, take decisions and work out policy is absolutely impossible to grasp,» lamented Andrei Bystritsky.

Declining qualification of media professionals

«When the torrent of information comes down on the heads of consumers, among those affected are editors-in-chief of media outlets and journalists, who also find it very hard to orientate themselves in this chaos. <...> In this situation, many of the decisions taken do not undergo primary processing, primary analysis,» said Evelina Zakamskaya, Editor-in-Chief of Doctor Channel and Anchor of Russia 24.

«The ignorance that has struck the world has also affected the media and international education. <....> People know nothing about anything,» regretted Margarita Simonyan.

«Another key problem is correctness and competence. Unfortunately, to a certain extent, we can also see deprofessionalization,» remarked Erlan Karin.

«The professional level of which Margarita [Simonyan — Editor] was speaking is falling to ground level, so to say,» agrees Vladimir Chizhov, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the European Union.


Opposition to the hegemony of the mainstream media is only possible through united information efforts

«It is very important that we have balanced coverage of events happening in the world. So cooperation among various media outlets is vital. <...> On the one hand, they have to be independent but, on the other, they have to communicate with one another. It is necessary to cooperate, to collaborate to get the picture more complete and balanced,» suggested Bin Li.

«China, Russia, and Iran should create a united force, a united media to represent themselves as accurately and fairly as possible, to tell about themselves,» proposed Seyyed Zia Hashemi.

Enhancing the quality of journalism; ensuring access to audience

«It is good when the audience has an opportunity to see this or that both through our eyes and theirs. We believe it is good; they believe it is bad. <...> During the period after they began choking us, our audience, which is analysed by the same western companies, has increased by a third. <...> This is a sign that the end benefactor in all this conflict is the audience. They need another point of view, they want it,» Margarita Simonyan believes.

Comprehensive approach to solving the problem

«The solution should be global. We have to act at all levels: the government (it must encourage a higher professional level of journalists and enhance public literacy), media industry, which must ensure a high quality of journalism, win the public’s confidence and correct fake news. And then tech companies, which should invest in the tools to combat fake news. <...> As for the public, their literacy with regard to consumption of news must be raised,» concluded Juan Maria Calvo Roy.

More detailed information is available on the website of the Roscongress Foundation information and analytical system.