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Datum objave: 05.12.2018

UNESCO CHAIR 'media and Journalistic Practices 'the University of Strasbourg 13 to 15 May, 2019

Freedom of expression in the digital era

UNESCO CHAIR 'media and Journalistic Practices 'the University of Strasbourg

13 to 15 May, 2019



8 th Annual Meeting

of the network of

UNESCO Chairs in Communication

This manifestation is open to

all the international scientific community

whether present or via videoconference

Freedom of expression in the digital era

From Fake news to Artificial Intelligence

Freedom of expression only wears out if you do not use it

(From Le canard enchaîné, satirical French newspaper)

Call for Papers

Freedom of expression has been a question

of study since the first democracies. In the Greek an-

tiquity, Athena elaborated a system allowing citizens to

express themselves, yet with limits related to the notion of

citizenship. Later, the development of the press, then

radio and television increased the possibilities of expres-

sion, but still with limited control. Antagonism between

political and/or religious power and media, citizens, and

artist freedom, transformed into an pretty permanent fight.

The first approach then is to question the concept itself:

does it cover the same reality in all countries of the world

? What to do in the democracies where limi-tations are

brought by the law, rules, or legal decisions? The

evolution of the annual ranking of press freedom in

“Reporters sans frontières” shows the flexible dimen-sion

of the concept. In this context, the advent of the digital

era, particularly social media, changes the games’ rules.

In fact, the possibility for everyone having access to

internet to share information, the relatively legal vacuum

created by the international dimension of the web, today’s

high economic stakes and the professio-nalization of the

digital practices of the states and the different social

groups, all modify at the same time the stakes and the

implementation of freedom of speech.

The new technologies should, neither be ac-

cepted naively, nor rejected by an ideological systematic

opposition. They are everywhere, and we all use them.

The objective of this congress is to question, with the

international scientific community, the actual practices

and their consequences on freedom of speech that are

the basis of democracies success. This congress is part of the work that UNESCO has been conducting for

years on this topic (https://en, particularly with an annual pu-

blication of an observatory on World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development.

The work would focus on four thematics:

the definitions, the space, the people, and the cross disciplinary themes:


The search for a definition of a concept is the basis of all scientific work. This congress is no excep-

tion. What have been the different developments that freedom of expression has experienced since its Greek

origins? How is it defined in the world today? Its links with democracy seem obvious to some, others seems to

be more critical, especially since each individual freedom will be able to oppose another or social freedom. How

are the differences that can be seen caa be managed in international organizations such as UNESCO or the

UN? The development of new technologies has changed people’s access to information and communi-cation.

Are we facing the empowerment of citizens as some say? How do national legislations manage this notion and

its practice, which today is largely internationalized by the web? Some activities such as journalistic information

or art can systematically exploit this freedom, or even voluntarily exceed its legal framework. With what

consequences for individuals and societies?

2. The spaces of freedom of speech in the digital era

Freedom, as an abstract concept, can only exist through a space. First, school where

students learn how to be citizens. In fact, educational systems differ even among democratic states:

some give limited autonomy to students, some larger. Besides, the curriculum and the teaching freedom

also differ. Hence, are societies more or less free depending on their educational system? After

examining media literacy, what about digital learning? Does it provide the youth with extra freedom?

University follows the same line of this deve-lopment. States train their future officials, and students are

supposed to learn how to practice their critical thinking. Does the digitalization of teaching, engineering,

and administrative management, help in making students’ voice heard better?

Media, a sort of adults’ school, is another fundamental space that forms and informs citizens. The

majority of today’s media come in a hybrid form: a traditional medium for their mature audience and the web for

the young one. Did they win in terms of autonomy? Do they inform better while targeting their spectators/

readers/ listeners’s desires? Organizations, whether public or private, are also spaces of social life. Thus, a

space where freedom of expression is at risk. If the legislation frames adequately the large enterprises, what

about the SMEs? How do organizations use ICTs internally and externally? Finally, the Web is modifying

radical-ly the old practices of private and public expression through equalizing gradually the differences between

the two. Can we associate what is visible on the Internet with what is visible in public? Does the followers’s logic

coincide with the supporters’s one? Internet users receive everyday a large number of information. Are they

better informed this way, or does “too much information kill the information”?

The street is another space of expression that is questionable. The Roman forum or the Greek

agora were the first public expression spaces. After being mainly a “market place”, it later became the space

where people, from different origins, meet to talk about economic, religious, legal and political topics. Later,

artists used the walls to express themselves, just as sculptors used rocks to express their annoyance in the ca-

thedrals sculptures, or more recently, Banksy on the walls of London. Could the digital upcoming, in line with

these ways of expression, be an additional medium? In what way does social media facilitate the organization of

public expression? Does cultural digital broadcasting help in enriching the spread of ideas?

People: rulers, associations, or simple citizens

If Aristotle was one of the precursors of powers separation, Locke and Montesquieu would later

theorize the necessity of separating the executive from the legislative and the legal in the representative

democracies. What did the digital advent change in the communication between governments, administra-

tions, parliament, justice and the citizens generally in the political tribune? Could these latter make their voices

heard more easily? How is the e-citizenship developing? The political oppositions, muzzled in dicta-torships,

use freedom of speech to be present and active in democracies and contribute in the balancing of power.

Therefore, there are three categories of opposition to distinguish: one that accepts the system, one that stays

anonymous, and one that refuses the system and is ready to act illegally or even violently to express it. So,

where do they all stand in social media? Groups, or even states can put in danger the good functioning of

democracies through sharing disinformation campaigns on the Web. How to protect ones’ self from these

dangers from the outside without limiting the citizens freedom? The international dimension of the web also

gives associations and NGOs an increasing importance: how does it manage this worldwide communication?

Other groups are particularly concerned by freedom of expression:

minorities, whether they are indeed or just treated as such, and whether visible in

the media space or not, are also concerned with freedom of speech. Groups

include women first: what doors do blogs open for them, those of the political

expression in the broad sense or those of the fields to which they remain

confined (fashion, beauty, psychology,…)? How do minorities (ethnic, linguistic,

religious, sexual…) raise their voices in the Web without shutting themselves

away in a re-ductive communitarianism? How do they stand against hate speech

that might affect them on social media, both individually or collectively?

After all, who are the individuals excluded from the Internet, due to technical, economic, politi-cal,

psychological and social reasons, and who cannot enjoy the digital freedom of expression unless they have a

free access to this tool. What are the remedial measures taken in the different countries. And what are their

effects? Is the digital world efficient enough to involve illiterate people in the democracy?

The main topics stemming from freedom of expression

in the digital era and in the age of contexts’ diversity

Because of its global dimension, the digital world confronts the international right with new

challenges. Indeed, what is allowed in one country is not in another, what is accepted in a culture can be a real

issue in another. A court decision can be difficult to apply in a particular country. Transparency is one of the

most important criteria of the digital communication: it is thus essential to know the owner or the funder of a

website. How does the net neutrality takes place in the different countries? If, instead of offering a universal

service, operators make choices depending on economic and political criteria, the freedom of expression would

be questioned. Furthermore, the truth has always been the main objective of communication. Studies show not

only the immanence of the concept, but also its relativity. If democratic media advocate and put into practice

information ethics, the development of fake news questions information practices to such an extent that some

countries want to enact legislation on this matter. What are the expected results? And what happens in the

countries where freedom of expression and religion are in conflict?

However, the main emerging topic that will certainly be prominent in the following years is

artifi-cial intelligence (AI). This topic is still at the beginning of its technical development, which does

not prevent human and social sciences from involving this new phenomenon and the consequences that

it may have. The expression itself can be considered as a misnomer, to doubt the “real” feelings of a

robot or its capacity to have a conscience. But the question that should be raised is whether freedom of

expression would benefit from the AI, or would it be its own implacable enemy: The first trials for the use

of the journalistic monitoring and the verification of fake news are ongoing.

Practical Information

Two trilingual publications are planned: the first one is available as hard copy

at Éditions de l’Im-matériel (Paris) in the “Ecritures du monde” collection, and is a

compilation of the productions of Orbicom members. The second one will be online

with texts of other researchers that would be selected by the scien-tific committee.

Each proposal should be about one of the three suggested topics. It will be in the

following form: the name of the author/s and their association structure, a title, a presentation text

of 2000 to 3000 signs, spaces included, in French, English or Spanish (word or a compatible

format) and a summary of 5 lines in one of the three languages. Moreover, the proposal should

indicate if the candidate will participate personally or via internet.

Each proposal must necessarily be submitted online on

the website

Deadline for the submission of the proposals: February 1, 2019

Deadline for the return of experts: March 1, 2019

The fees of in-person participation to the congress reach 140,00€, for the three days, including: the

registration, breaks, lunches and dinners, evening events, visits, the symposium electronic or paper

proceedings. The acts regrouping the articles presented by the Orbicom members are offered at a modest price. The accompanying persons who pay the same fee can benefit from the same

services, but they do not make a presentation. Phd holders pay 70,00€, those of

Strasbourg University and Haute-Alsace University are exempt from fees.

The traveling and accommodation fees are on the participants.

A list of recommended hotels will be communicated at the registration.

The remote participation is free, but the registration is mandatory.

Members of Orbicom up to date of their subscription are exempted from registration fees.

The scientific committee

Christian Agbobli, UQAM, Canada ; Yassine Akhiate, Haute Autorité pour la communication audiovisuelle, Mo-

rocco ; Ghislaine Azemard, Université Paris 8, France ; Bertrand Cabedoche, Université de Grenoble, France ;

Marisol Cano Busquet, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogota, Colombia ; Carmen Caffarel Serra, Univer-

sidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain; Emmanuelle Chevry Université de Strasbourg, France ; Roberto Chia-

chiri, Universitad metodista de Sãao Paulo, Brazil ; Bernardo Díaz Nosty, Universidad de Málaga, Spain; Cécile

Dolbeau-Bandin, Université de Caen, France ; Adela Drăgan, Université du Bas-Danube, Galati, Roumania;

Jamal Eddine Naji, Président Orbicom, Haute Autorité pour la communication audiovisuelle, Morocco ; Pas-cale

Erhart, Université de Strasbourg, France ; Magda Fusaro, UQAM, Canada; Elizabeth Gardère, Université de

Bordeaux, France ; Manuel Alejandro Guerrero Martinez, Universidad Iberoamericana, MexicoCity, Mexi-co ;

Mohamed Hellal, Université de Carthage, Tunisie ; Alain Kiyindou, Université de Bordeaux-Montaigne, France ;

Anne-Marie Laulan, Université de Bordeaux-Montaigne, France ; Annie Lenoble-Bart, Université de Bordeaux-

Montaigne, France ; Maria Dolores Montero, Universidad Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain ; Margue-rite Moritz,

University of Colorado, USA; Walter Neira Bronis, Université de Lima, Peru ; Éric Olmedo Insti-tute of Ethnic

Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Malaysia ; Jérémy Picot, Université de Strasbourg, France ; Gina

Puica Université Ştefan cel Mare, Suceava, Romania ; Catherine Roth, Université de Haute-Alsace, Mulhouse,

France ; Yeny Serrano, Université de Strasbourg, France ; Marc Trestini, Université de Strasbourg, France ;

Tim Unwin, University of London, London, United Kingdom ; Victoria Uranga Harboe, Universitad Diego

Portales, Santiago de Chili, Chile ; Philippe Viallon, Université de Strasbourg, France ; Minka Zlateva, University

of Sofia St Kliment Ottridski, Bulgaria.

Organization Committee

- Members of the UNESCO Chair « Pratiques journalistiques et médiatiques » of Strasbourg:

Yassine Akhiate, Muriel Béasse, Emmanuelle Chevry, Stéphane Dangel, Cécile Dolbeau-

Bandin, Adela Drăgan, Farhat El Khoury, Pascale Erhart, Jean-Marie Gachon, Elizabeth

Gardère, Mohamed Hellal, Hélène Hoblingre, Lu Liu, Jérémy Picot, Gina Puica, Gabriela

Rotar, Catherine Roth, Yeny Serrano, Frédéric Tendeng, Marc Trestini, Philippe Viallon

- Solène Baux, Solène de Bontin, Marilyne Eisele, Margot Evenou, Margaux Lamy, Emma Pana, Maurine

Piasecki, Simon Pfister, Théo Schiano, Cécile Undreiner, Orlane Varennes, Oryane Yorulmaz

- The Orbicom Secretariat: Rania Aoun, Pierre Giguère, Yves Théorêt

- Annick Le Ny and his team

- Carmen Rico de Sotelo

From Fake news to Artificial Intelligence

Strasbourg, 13-15 May, 2019

 Call for Papers

 Each proposal must necessarily be submitted online on the website :

 Deadline for the submission of the proposals: February 1, 2019

Deadline for the return of experts: March 1, 2019

Rania Aoun, PhD candidate

Chargée de cours, DCSP

Directrice, ORBICOM

Chercheure associée, Chaire UNESCO en communication et technologies pour le développement

Université du Québec à Montréal

Local R-5618

Tél. : +1 (514) 987-3000, poste 0385

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