WAN-IFRA and The Straits Times’ fight against fake news

WAN-IFRA and The Straits Times’ fight against fake news

WAN-IFRA and The Straits Times, the English-language flagship daily of Singapore Press Holdings, will jointly organize a two-day workshop on 19 and 20 June to develop concrete initiatives to fight against spread of misinformation and to improve media literacy in Asia.

The workshop will be held at Singapore Management University. K Shanmugam, minister for home affairs and for law, Singapore will deliver the opening address.
The two-day event is an initiative undertaken by WAN-IFRA to address the crucial issues surrounding the relationship between publishers and social platforms. The event will bring together media publishers, journalists, policymakers, industry players and other stakeholders with the objective to come up with concrete initiatives to fight against the spread of misinformation and improve media literacy in Asia.

The growing use of social media platforms as a main source of information has facilitated the emergence of a myriad ‘alt-facts’ or ‘alt-truths’ filter bubbles, which tend to isolate and confuse people. With deliberate hoaxes created to cause mischief, manipulate opinions and votes or make money, to media outlets re-circulating unverified or erroneous content, the misinformation ecosystem of fake news has become a pressing danger ​to modern societies. Talking in the interest of media organizations, Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of English, Malay and Tamil Media group (EMTM) of Singapore Press Holdings says, “The spread of fake news around the world is focusing minds on the need for good, credible and reliable journalism. Media organizations have an interest in retaining the trust of their readers. Democracies have an interest in ensuring that they have media organizations that meet voters’ needs for reliable information, to help them make good choices.  This forum will delve into how these interests are best served today.”

Arnoud De Meyer, SMU president and professor, observes, “Universities like Singapore Management University (SMU), too, have an important role to play through education and research. We can impart to students the skills in critical thinking and analysis, to be circumspect and be able to discern credible sources of information from non-credible ones, and to be open to diverse views for a more balanced perspective.”

Lynn McDonald, high commissioner of Canada and Ian Wilson, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce believes that the fake news phenomenon affects us all and addressing this issue requires strong, ongoing collaboration between governments and the private sector. They also believe that it is critical for everyone to work together to preserve the integrity of news and information.

‘Keep it Real: Truth and Trust in the Media’ will be organized in partnership with the Canadian High Commission, Facebook, Google, Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), the National Library Board and the SMU. The event will be open to general public.

Day 1 will hold a conference to look at practical fact-checking projects from Asia and world over. Apart from a series of presentations, the speakers will be part of panel discussions on efforts undertaken by internet companies, journalism schools, government agencies and independent organizations to improve media literacy and provide societies with reliable facts that enable well-informed, constructive public debates.

Day 2 will split selected participants into three workshops to discuss and identify concrete fact-checking measures and projects, consisting media literacy programs, legal and regulatory framework to tackle misinformation.

WAN-IFRA’s international expert group
WAN-IFRA recently established a specialist group to tap members’ experience with platforms and get a measure of relations with the tech giants. The company is constructive to understand what’s working and what’s not – and what media executives think could be done. A total of 150 media executives from 50 countries have already joined WAN-IFRA’s international expert group.

Lastly, debates on fake news and the role of social platforms will be  discussed at the upcoming WAN-IFRA’s  World News Media Congress  to be held in Durban, South Africa, between 7 and 9 June.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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