News Next 2019: Thorough fact-checking key to fighting fake news, opine senior journalists

At the ENBA News Next Conference 2019 held on Saturday, prominent personalities from the television news industry shared their perspective on how today’s media deals with fake news

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Back in the old days, when people got their news mainly from newspapers, magazines, radio and television, the menace of fake news was not so rampant. But in the last decade or two, with the growth of the internet and social media, fake news stories have proliferated.

On Saturday, prominent personalities from the television news industry got together at the News Next Conference at ENBA 2019 to share their perspective on how today’s media deals with fake news – who’s responsible. Chairing the compelling half-hour session was Nabila Jamaluddin, anchor, news 9. Panelists for the session were Surabhi Malik- Programme Director, Google news initiative India training network @Internews; Akhilesh Shukla, Senior Journalist; Pratyush Ranjan, Senior Editor, Jagran New Media; Jaideep Karnik, Content Head & Editor, Amal Ujala Digital; Mukesh Sharma, Editor, BBC News Hindi; and Balakrishna, fake news buster team, India Today. 

Starting the session, Jamaluddin asked how do someone detect fake news? To which Malik replied, “It is no rocket science to check facts, there is a lot of misinformation doing the rounds on different platforms that you access to gather news. But taking a moment and running it through some basic checks won’t take much of anyone’s time. And when you have credibility at stake and when you know the repercussions of putting a wrong news/picture on air or online or in print and to save yourself from that guilt, I think it is totally worth going back 2 or 3 times to verify the news.”

Balakrishna added, “First step is to identify what is fake news. We need to understand whether this piece of information is a fact or an opinion. If something is important but looks suspicious then pass it on to the fact-check desk so that they can verify it. We need to identify who is the source of this story. The reporter needs to be confident about the source. We need to be a little more conscious. It is important to investigate any news source, even when you think the post is legitimate.”

Jaideep Karnik thinks that social media plays the biggest villain in circulating fake news. “Nowadays everybody is a reporter but what they don’t realise are the repercussions. Those unnecessary forward messages on WhatsApp or Facebook which are sent out without verifying the news are one of the biggest problems. Some news stories are intentionally false, designed as propaganda in order to stir up social groups in the masses of readers.” 

 “We need to verify everything that goes out on social media or any other platform. If you are doing, then you are sorted. If you are not, then you are in trouble. We don’t detect fake news, we do fact checks. Verify and re-verify it, cross check the news and then double cross check the news, that’s the way to go. Technology will come and go but go back to your journalism and apply the methods that we were taught,” said Ranjan Pratyush.

“If you have any doubt in the news, hold it. Don’t release it. We need to go back to basic rules of journalism to fight fake news,” Akhilesh Shukla added. 

Mukesh Sharma said that credibility is the key. “When you are not verifying the news, you just want to jump in and flash the news. Don’t be in the race of being first, be in the race of being credible.”

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