Global journalism in the digital age

Digital surveillance, privacy and journalism. These issues were in focus during Global Journalism Day at Örebro University.

- The key question is how we can create information technology that we trust and that deserves our trust, said Google's Nicklas Lundblad, one of the speakers.

Walid Al-Saqaf and Nicklas Lundblad

Walid Al-Saqaf (left), Örebro University, and Nicklas Lundblad, Google, during Global Journalism Day. Photo: Kicki Nilsson.

Global Journalism Day aimed at highlighting the privacy challenges that have become so apparent in the wake of information technology developments. There are new and refined tools for digital surveillance but what are the consequences for democracy and freedom of speech? And how can journalists protect their sources?

Important public debate

Nicklas Lundblad is the Director of Public Policy and Government Relations for Europe and the EU at Google and is part of a global team focusing on questions of freedom of speech and international policy. Man's attitude to technology, he claims, has always been a contradictory one. Does it help or hinder us? Can we be assisted by it or does it threaten our livelihoods? At the end of the day, we need to create technology that deserves people's trust, argued Nicklas Lundblad.

- Governments and businesses need to be transparent in terms of that they are doing. At the same time there needs to be an ongoing public debate on issues such as surveillance and the application of new technologies, he says.

- I think most of us can agree that a certain degree of surveillance is needed in society, but we need an open debate where we can discuss and question initiatives to keep surveillance on an acceptable and reasonable level.

Global perspective

Contributing during Global Journalism Day was a number of renowned speakers, among others Guy Berger, Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO, and Ulf Johansson, Director of National News at the Swedish public service television broadcaster, SVT.

- This is the second time we are organising Global Journalism Day and we have, thanks to our speakers, been successful in highlighting these important issues from a broad perspective. And the representatives of for example Google, UNESCO, human rights organisations, universities, the media as well as entrepreneurs in the field have made this possible, says Walid Al-Saqaf, Director of the Master's programme Global Journalism at Örebro University.

He continues:

- I hope that this day will provide those who have come here with food for thought and that people will realise the importance of these issues for democracy and not least for journalism.