Information is the engine of development in the 20th and 21st century. This is fueled by independent news media that can act as a trusted guardian of public interest, and as an essential part of society’s checks and balances on power. But recent developments have put journalism under fire.
A range of factors are transforming the communications landscape, raising questions about the quality, impact and credibility of journalism. At the same time, orchestrated campaigns are spreading untruths - disinformation, mal-information and misinformation - that are often unwittingly shared on social media.
Political, technological, economic and social transformations are inexorably reshaping the communications landscape and raising many questions about the quality, impact and credibility of journalism. In addition, the information ecology is being contaminated by orchestrated campaigns to spread untruths via disinformation. This disruption is accompanied by manipulation of half-truths via mal-information, and by the unwitting sharing of misinformation.
This is the context in which UNESCO, through the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), has published the handbook on this highly topical and significant subject. The new resource is aimed mainly at journalism educators and trainers, but is also of direct interest to practicing journalists and others who are interested in the quality of information in circulation.
Written by experts in the fight against disinformation, this handbook explores the very nature of journalism with modules on why trust matters; thinking critically about how digital technology and social platforms are conduits of the information disorder; fighting back against disinformation and misinformation through media and information literacy; fact-checking 101; social media verification and combatting online abuse.
This handbook is an essential addition to teaching syllabi for all journalism educators, as well as practicing journalists and editors who are interested in information, how we share it and how we use it. It is mission critical that those who practice journalism understand and report on the new threats to trusted information. Political parties, health professionals, business people, scientists, election monitors and others will also find it useful.
This publication is part of UNESCO’s IPDC Excellence in Journalism Education Series.