Journalism needs verification culture: AFP news director

Journalism needs verification culture: AFP news director

Dubai - Chetwynd suggested that the global battle against misinformation began in 2016.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Thu 28 Mar 2019, 10:07 PM

Last updated: Fri 29 Mar 2019, 12:15 AM

Arab journalists were urged to act against the false news epidemic across the globe.
Speaking at the second day of the Arab Media Forum on Thursday, Phil Chetwynd, global news director of AFP, suggested a set of simple rules the Arab media can apply to bust fake news on digital and print platforms.
Chetwynd suggested that the global battle against misinformation began in 2016. "At this point, we realised the massive impact misinformation could have on global events." Events like the Brexit referendum as well as the US elections resulted in some serious soul searching within the media industry.
The news director suggested that consumers of news have considerably low trust in mainstream media. "The trust has never been so low. We are in a position where we had to justify everything we are doing," he added. Chetwynd quoted examples of online groups on Facebook that have significantly higher interactions and followings than mainstream media. He also quoted examples from the elections in the Philippines where social media was used as a powerful tool to sway voter interests.
The recent altercations between India and Pakistan also witnessed a surge in fake news on social media. AFP debunked 30-40 reports that appeared on various platforms. "People shared pictures of airfields full of planes ready to bomb either country. These reports had significant impact on public understanding of the issue," he added.
Other examples were from the most recent attacks on a mosque in New Zealand where a bloodied picture of the Holy Quran was shared several thousand times. "However, a quick reverse search on Google showed that the picture has been floating around since 2018," said Chetwynd.
Beating misinformation 
"We must play misinformation at its on game," said Chetwynd. "Hit back with big, bold and blaring titles that hit back at false reports," he added. The use of red headlines that read 'fake' is an effective way to deter people from reading the report.
The news director said the report must be about cold, unemotional facts. "All sourcing in the report must be named and clear. Present facts in all their glory because that is what the media is truly about," said Chetwynd.

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