Veteran Arab Forum journalists stress need to fight disinformation
The Arab Forum, as part of World Press Freedom Day 2021 yesterday, underscored the importance of equipping journalists with the right tools and skills to tackle disinformation and hate speech, especially at the era of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Described as the “Arab Forum / 25 Years After the Sana’a Declaration: Media Sustainability in Arab Countries”, the online discussion saw the participation of senior journalists and media professionals from the region who shared their views. on the freedom and responsibility of the press.
“The pandemic (Covid-19) has of course exacerbated disinformation… it is very important to fight disinformation during the pandemic,” said Ahmad Abu Hamad, editor and trainer at Al Jazeera Media Institute.
He noted that the Institute had different programs and activities that deal with this type of challenges in the context of a global health crisis.
Hamad said organizing a series of webinars and virtual forums for journalists, covering a range of topics, helped attendees prepare to cover the wider (Covid-19) pandemic and “bridge the scientific void ”during its assault.
Over 1,000 journalists attended a three-day forum, in addition to a number of training sessions related to fact-checking and how to avoid hate speech on social media. At the start of the epidemic, Hamad said many journalists had difficulty accessing news sources as misleading reports and data spread online.
“It had an impact on the situation and it was essential to train journalists to face this challenge. There are also other media trainings organized in many countries in which hundreds of journalists have participated, some related to fact checking, ”he said.
A science journalist’s manual / guide was also produced from the trainings for journalists who wish to have more accurate coverage of scientific issues, in particular Covid-19, Hamad added.
Other panelists like Nibal Mohamad Ahmad Thawabteh, director of the Media Development Center at Birzeit University, echoed Hamad’s point of view stressing the importance of media education and working with different sectors of the media. society to unravel the truth. She stressed the need to strengthen the capacity of journalists to create strong media content and reports to fight disinformation.
In the fight against hate speech and disinformation (discussed in the first segment of the forum), Shaima al-Mehdhar, project coordinator for the Manasati project30, said she had organized training for young and senior journalists to develop their skills. skills and ability to provide balanced coverage and deliver neutral information. “Manasati30” is one of the largest independent online media platforms in Yemen.
Roula Mikhael, Founder and Executive Director of the Maharat Foundation, stressed that journalists and their works should be protected against copying and reproduction with permission. The Foundation operates Maharat News, an independent online multimedia platform whose model of in-depth journalism on key issues of government accountability amplifies political news.
Mikhael noted that the revenues of media organizations and institutions plummeted during the pandemic, and many journalists lost their jobs while others contracted the virus. A series of panel discussions, presentations and workshops will continue through May 3 to mark World Press Freedom Day, which will be held virtually and in attendance in Windhoek, Namibia.
This five-day event, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration on Media Pluralism and Independence.