WS 1: Content is the king revisited

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Session teaser

Content is the king revisited: Opportunities and challenges for media, content, and news in the changing media landscape of an Internet-enabled world

Session description

When Microsoft founder Bill Gates famously wrote “content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting” in 1996, few may have realized at the time how prophetic his statement was.

Since the media has historically set the content agenda, Gates’ prediction had widespread implications. In today's rapidly evolving landscape, however, content often shapes media – as demonstrated by established media outlets covering viral content. Additionally, there are many trends he did not foresee. Traditional media and its chief editors have lost their role as gatekeepers, and groups that did not previously have a chance to get their ideas published now communicate effectively with their followers. Politicians and bureaucrats reach voters and citizens directly, bypassing media, and the citizens can react to them directly as well. Yet, on the negative side, dangerous ideas and ideologies can be spread with a retweet, and radical people no longer need to send letters to the editor to air their suggestions, grievances, or curses. Angry and hateful postings have clogged comment channels in many European countries, and media outlets have been forced to shut them down or introduce heavy-handed moderation.

As we approach the 20th anniversary of Gates’ declaration that “content is king,” this workshop aims to review Gates’ predictions, evaluate whether they turned out the way he thought or not, and contextualize the current European media landscape in light of changes and some phenomena he did not envision, such as rise of search engines and aggregators as well as user-generated content.

This workshop will explore current trends in content production and distribution, with a particular focus on its effects on media and content policy in Europe, the changing role of media as gatekeepers, and the challenge of addressing hate speech, and how content influences children and youth in the age of social media. It also aims to address how content is shaping media use in Europe and the relationship between content and the media’s agenda-setting role.


Hate speech, Social & digital media, Child protection online, Access to content, User & content validity, Media & content policy, European media & content, Content delivery, News publishing, New & established media, Agenda-setting media & content


The session will be conducted in a manner that maximizes interaction using a roundtable structure with key participants who can provide insight and expertise for the topics being discussed.

To begin with, the moderator will summarize the article Bill Gates wrote in 1996 where he stressed that content is king, focus on some of Gates’ predictions and ask the audience, whether they think that the predictions have been fulfilled over the 20 years since, especially in Europe. [10 minutes]

At this point, the moderator will open the discussion about search engines and content aggregation in Europe to address how well traditional media has succeeded in adapting to the transition to digital media (including how to make money) and its new forms of content. [15 minutes]

The moderator will then open the floor for discussion on the role media provide as gatekeepers and the current phenomena of hate speech in Europe. [20 minutes]

The next and largest section of the workshop will be a discussion on how media outlets, producers, and policymakers can create more effective policies to address content-related issues, including hate speech, child rights online, and monetization. [40 minutes]

The last 10 minutes will be used to summarize key take-aways from the session and wrap-up [10 minutes]

Further reading

  1. Bill Gates (1996) – Content is King
  2. UNESCO (2015) – Countering Online Hate Speech
  3. National Public Radio (NPR): The Diane Rehm Show (2016) – Concerns About How Facebook And Other Social Media Giants Highlight News Online
  4. Council of Europe (CoE) (2014a) – Starting Points for Combating Hate Speech Online
  5. Article 19 (2015) – Hate Speech Explained: A Toolkit (PDF)
  6. Council of Europe (2014b) – Bookmarks: A Manual for Combating Hate Speech Online Through Human Rights Education (PDF)
  7. European Union & European Court of Human Rights (1950) – European Convention on Human Rights
  8. European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) (2016) – ECRI Policy Recommendation on Hate Speech
  9. Council of Europe (2016) – CoE Committee of Ministers recommendation on Internet Freedom
  10. Council of Europe (No date) – Hate Speech


  • Focal Points
  1. Michael Oghia – Independent, Turkey
  2. Arman Atoyan – X-TECH, Armenia
  • Key participants
  1. Menno Ettema (confirmed) – Coordinator for the No Hate Speech Movement, Council of Europe
  2. Tommi Karttaavi (confirmed) – Internet Society (ISOC) Chapter Development Manager, Europe
  3. Su Sonia Herring (confirmed) – Youth representative of Network of European Digital Youth (NERDY) from Turkey, and Editor & Social Media Specialist at Dukkan Publishing and Creative Agency
  4. Hanna Zoon (confirmed) – Researcher on Robot Journalism at Fontys Future Media Lab
  • Moderator: Gareth Harding (confirmed) – Managing Director, Clear Europe and former Chief European Correspondent for United Press International

Gareth has 25 years of experience in Brussels as a political advisor, journalist, lecturer, filmmaker, and media trainer. He is the managing director of Clear Europe, a Brussels-based communications company specializing in media training. As an award-winning journalist and expert on European affairs, Gareth has written for Time magazine, Politico, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and the European Voice. In addition to affiliations with the IHECS School of Communications in Brussels, the European Journalism Centre, and the College of Europe in Bruges, he is currently the director of the University of Missouri School of Journalism’s Brussels program and a columnist for EUobserver.

  • Remote moderator: Naser Bislimi (confirmed) – Association of Journalists of Macedonia
  • Org team
  1. Yrjö Länsipuro (Subject matter expert) – ISOC Finland
  2. Michael Oghia (Focal point) – Unaffiliated, Turkey
  3. Irina Drexler – Council of Europe, Romania
  4. Jakob Kucharczyk – CCIA, Belgium
  5. Arman Atoyan (Focal point) – X-TECH, Armenia
  6. Michael Oghia, Wiki editor,
  • Reporter: Yrjö Länsipuro (ISOC Finland)

Yrjö is the President of the Internet Society's (ISOC) Finland chapter, and has extensive experience in print and television journalism, government communications and Internet governance. He was Managing Editor of TV news at YLE, the Finnish public service broadcaster, before becoming Bureau Chief in Moscow and then in Hong Kong. Yrjö has also worked for the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) as its Bureau Chief in New York and for the German Friedrich-Ebert Foundation directing its news training courses at the Asia-Pacific Broadcast Development Institute in Kuala Lumpur. He then served the Finnish government as Press Counselor at the Finnish Embassy in Washington, D.C. and as Director-General of the Department of Press and Culture of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, which he also represented on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). After leaving government service, he became actively engaged in volunteer work as part of ICANN's at-large community, including as the European Regional At-Large Organization (EURALO) representative in the Nominating Committee (NomCom), as well as participated in the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) from their inception.

Discussion summaries and meeting minutes

The organizing team, hereby referred to as org team, was first introduced by the EuroDIG secretariat on 21 March 2016 (email conversation available here). The org team held its first Skype discussion call on 31 March 2016. After some technical issues that did not allow Jakob to join us, Arman, Yrjö, and Michael discussed the larger details of the session, such as the purpose, key content, and intended outcomes as well as direction to create the session title and keywords.

After a constructive conversation, Michael drafted an email (available here) summarizing the key points and steps to take the discussion forward – bearing in mind Jakob's need to be informed about the discussion so he can continue to be engaged. The email led to a robust discussion where the org team reached consensus on the way forward (such as the overall structure, direction, and content of the workshop), as well as finalized the title and keywords ahead of the 4 April 2016 deadline – and subsequently submitted them to the EuroDIG secretariat (email conversation available here.

Throughout April and May, Yrjö and Michael drafted the session description, session format, and began proposing and reaching out to key participants (including finding a moderator). Our conversation about session content and speakers is available here, the email with the final session description and format is available here, and the email inviting Aidan White to be the moderator is available here. We also gained a new member for the organizing team in May, Irina Drexler from Romania.

Additionally, Tommi Karttaavi, one of our confirmed speakers, said the Internet Society (ISOC) is organizing a workshop in the afternoon of day zero (8 June) for the ISOC EuroDIG fellows. He added that he discussed with Yrjö the possibility of using part of that workshop to discuss the issues of WS 1 to prepare for the WS 1 session.

As of 26 May, all official preparations for the workshop were completed. The email to all involved with information relevant to the session was sent on the same day and is available here.

We were informed on 3 June that Aidan White will not be able to make the session due to personal reasons, but suggested Gareth Harding instead who confirmed his participation.

Mailing list


Video record

See the record of the session in our youtube channel


Transcript: Content is the king revisited


The key messages of the session are available here.

Session Twitter hashtag

Hashtag: #eurodig16 #ContentIsKing