UNESCO Joins Hands with Educators to Fight Fake News

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM — A webinar on Thursday in which a UNESCO representative took part, took up the issue of fake news and disinformation which has become one of the biggest challenges faced by journalists across the world.

The purpose of the session was to create awareness about the resources and curriculum created by leading journalism educators, which are published by UNESCO for the developing countries.

Alan Finlay from UNESCO’s Argentina office moderated the discussion and taking part were experts and educators from Asia and Africa.

“UNESCO is publishing new resources for press freedom, gender equality and climate communication. These resources can be integrated into school and higher education curriculum in Asia and Africa for structured teaching and learning,” said Finlay.

Manju Rose Mathews, Head of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Christ Nagar College, here said journalism is getting drowned under an avalanche of disinformation and misinformation.

“Fighting misinformation has become more important than ever. Curricular interventions are required to nurture skills for the new generation of media students in identifying and verifying fake news,” said Mathews.

She added that the misinformation around vaccination is evolving as another threat in containing the spread of the pandemic.

“Vaccine scepticism, disinformation targeting specific brand of vaccines, vaccine nationalism, confusion around vaccine efficacy have all created a scenario where people hesitate to inoculate,” added Mathews who coordinated the initiative of UNESCO for bringing out ‘Journalism, Fake News and Disinformation’ – the UNESCO handbook for journalism education and training into Indian languages.

Paul Kimumwe from the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) emphasized the importance of media and information literacy to counter fake news.

“The need of verification desks within small and large media houses for accuracy of news is required,” said Kimumwe.

Robert Wanjala, senior programme officer from Article19, said legislation can only suppress free media.

“We need non-invasive methods to control fake news. Governmental control can only hamper freedom of press,” said Wanjala.

Yvonne Chua from the University of the Philippines and Co-founder Verafiles, mentioned that “social media warriors, trolls and bots influence social media opinion building during elections to benefit ruling governments.”

“Fact-checking in the pandemic phase is essential to contain the spread of fake news. The importance of having fact-checking as a course for media education will help media students to be well trained with skills to check fake news,” said Chua.

Source: TOI 

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