UNESCO Empowers Journalism Educators to Counter Disinformation in Southeast Asia

16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Nearly forty educators from journalism and mass communication schools from across the region participated a three-day “Online Training on the State of Journalism and Mass Communication Education on Countering Disinformation in ASEAN Countries”, from 27-29 October 2020.

This first regional virtual training organized by UNESCO in Southeast Asia coincided with the Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week which took place in the same week.

The transformations of technology, economic and social have shaped the communication landscape and journalism in the last few years. “We need to address the spread of disinformation, misinformation, and the diminishing trust in journalism. One of the things that can be done is to prepare journalists to be more future proof.” said Dr. Ming-Kuok Lim, Advisor for Communication and Information of UNESCO Jakarta Office during the training.

International industry experts facilitated shared current development and practice in countering disinformation. The sessions were designed to strengthen the practical knowledge including the capacity to use online tools in countering disinformation and to apply them in the teachings.

Mr Bernd Oswald from BR24, part of the Bavarian Public Service Broadcasting in Munich, kick-started the first day of the training by sharing the techniques and tools to verify online information. Mr Oswald highlighted the “Verification in Five Steps” covering provenance, source, motivation, location and time of online information. He also gave practical examples such as reverse image search techniques along with the tools available to the training participants.

On the second day of the training, Deutsche Welle investigative journalist, innovation manager and trainer, Ms Julia Bayer, engaged the participants in evaluating manipulated visual elements and in order to train their “eagle eyes”. Ms Bayer and training participants explored various examples of videos in order to identify deepfakes and shallowfakes as well as to recognize their differences.

Aside from the German experts, two Indonesian fact-checkers also shared their experience on fact-checking in the country. They were Ms Ika Ningtyas, fact-checking journalist from Tempo, and Mr Adi Syafitra a fact-checker from the Indonesian Anti-Hoax Organization, MAFINDO. Ms. Ika Ningtyas also stressed the importance of global collaboration in to share the technology and skill in debunking deep fakes and building information literacy for young students as measures to fight disinformation.  

The last day of the training included a presentation from Dr Masato Kajimoto from the University of Hong Kong. He shared his practice in the teaching of Media and Information Literacy (MIL). Dr Kajimoto also shared the key findings of the newly published UNESCO report entitled Media and Information Literacy Education in Asia: Exploration of policies and practices in Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines.

In the end of the trainings, participants were invited to share their reflections as well as the efforts of they are conducting in their universities in approaches and ways in integrating teaching of countering disinformation.

UNESCO works to promote Media and Information Literacy (MIL) in Southeast Asia region by producing high-quality resource materials for journalism educators. MIL is an umbrella concept used by UNESCO to highlight the inter-related competencies to build critical thinking regarding media and information.

UNESCO is the United Nations specialized agency that promotes freedom of expression, press freedom, safety of journalists, and access to information which is a crucial component to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals including Goal 16.  

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