Defend truth, fight disinformation: US diplomat to reporters at fact-check workshop

The objective of the training is to better equip journalists to prevent fake news, disinformation, and misinformation from creeping into the mainstream media while they report

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  8 Aug 2022 11:25 AM GMT
Defend truth, fight disinformation: US diplomat to reporters at fact-check workshop

Hyderabad: Frankie Sturm, assistant public affairs officer at the United States Consulate General, Hyderabad, underlined the importance of citizens' duties and responsibilities to defend the truth, while countering disinformation and misinformation in all possible ways. He was addressing a two-day workshop on "Countering Disinformation for Telugu TV Reporters" jointly organised by the department of journalism and mass communication, Osmania University, and the US Consulate General, Hyderabad, at the CFRD building on the OU campus on 8 August.

Mr. Sturm said it is imperative to have a wider discussion on the issue of misinformation and disinformation. "Misinformation threatens the foundations of democracy because we can't get together and debate the big issues of the day if we don't have a shared understanding of basic facts," he observed. The workshop, he said, will improve the information environment by equipping journalists with additional skills to spot misinformation and provide reliable news to the public.

Prof. D. Ravinder, the Vice-Chancellor of Osmania University, urged the media to "cross-check facts before making news public." Stating that unverified information can damage the reputation of individuals and organisations, he asked the media to be balanced and fair.

Prof. Stevenson Kohir, project coordinator and head of OU's department of journalism and mass communication, said that the first-of-its-kind training programme evoked an overwhelming response from participants. He described how some of the participants were already fighting misinformation by applying the techniques they were taught as part of the training. He highlighted the resource material in Telugu on fact-checking, authored by lead trainer Udumula Sudhakhar Reddy and B.N Satyapriya, which proved to be very useful to participants in their daily journalistic routine as effective fact-checkers.

Alanna Suzanne Dvorak, international training manager, IFCN Poynter, and Prof. Anantha Sudhakar Babbili of Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi addressed the participants and shared their expertise on the topic. Fact-check trainers Udumula Sudhakar Reddy and Coreena Suares, project member S. Ramu, media advisor Abdul Basith, and other staff from the US Consulate were also present. The project "Countering Disinformation for Telugu TV Reporters" is a 90-hour training session to train TV journalists as verification experts. Both offline and online training has been conducted for the past six months.

The objective of the training is to better equip journalists to prevent fake news, disinformation, and misinformation from creeping into the mainstream media while they report. Journalists are trained in various types of disinformation and misinformation verification methods; fact-check tools and techniques; methods for finding open data; the legal aspects of misinformation and disinformation; how to verify or fact-check news or videos or text or images; and Rules of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Press Council of India guidelines. Fifty per cent of the trainees are women journalists and five are students from the OU department of journalism. The intended outcome of the training is to empower journalists to hone their fact-checking skills in their daily journalistic routine.

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