Using the opportunity of the Internet Governance Forum to help the fight back against pollution of the information environment, UNESCO officially launched its publication Journalism, ‘F*ke News’ and Disinformation: A handbook for Journalism Education and Training.
Written by experts from around the world, 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 information disorder; fighting back against disinformation and misinformation through media and information literacy; fact-checking 101; social media verification and combatting online abuse.
During UNESCO’s Open Session on Broadening Stakeholder Participation in Internet Governance, Mr Guy Berger, UNESCO Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development, highlighted the relevance of the book to the Internet community, as well as journalists, journalism schools and any one using the Web.
He noted that disinformation could take many forms, such as memes and slogans through to posing as if it were news.
In a question and answer session with Julie Posetti, research fellow at Oxford University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and co-author with Cherilyn Ireton of the new Handbook, Berger asked why “F*ke News” was crossed out in the publication’s title.
“Firstly, it’s an oxymoron, if it’s fake, it’s not news”, Posetti said, adding that “News is verifiable information shared in the public interest”.
Posetti told the IGF that the term “F*ke News” had been weaponized to attack and discredit, and to undermine legitimate, critical reporting designed to hold powerful people, governments and corporations to account. “It’s a term that’s gone viral in the most destructive way, and it’s unfortunately it’s been licensed by democratic governments. We need to find new ways to discuss this crisis.”
“One of the most disturbing new developments has been the targeted, orchestrated harassment of women journalists online, deploying disinformation tactics, including deep fake videos, and other means of exposing them to risk”, she added.
You can find out more on F*ke News by watching Mr George Papagiannis Chief, Media Services at UNESCO and co-author, Julie Posetti, discuss ‘F*ke News’ and its impact on journalism and democracy on Facebook live.
The handbook is an essential addition to teaching syllabi for all journalism educators, as well as practising journalists and editors who are interested in information, how we share it and how we use it. Political parties, health professionals, business people, scientists, election monitors and others will also find it useful.
The publication is part of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication’s Series on Journalism Education.