International conference on topic of news agencies vs. ‘fake news’ taking place in Tirana

“Today, fake news is no longer a phenomenon but a true communication strategy in the hands of a few people or groups which try to use the ‘fourth power’ for purposes often hostile”, said the General Director of the Albanian Telegraphic Agency (ATA), Armela Krasniqi, on Sunday, at the opening of the international conference on the topic of “News Agencies vs. Fake News”, reports Agerpres.

“Thanks to new technology, automation system and the possibility of sponsoring every content that appears on the social media, at present day the fake news are spread and are available in packages that circulate in the network”, emphasized Krasniqi, adding that there are uncountable cases recorded in the past years of social unrest provoked or incited by fake news which can also provoke violence in everyday life.

The situation is made more difficult, given that, according to EU statistics, approximately 65 pct of citizens use social networks as their first source of information, while trust in traditional media has plummeted to the lowest historical level. “In this new global environment of the media, no one is immune and no one has the chance to win in this war if one is alone’, the ATA director emphasized.

She added her hope that in the coming days “through sharing personal experiences with one another and debating on ways how we can cope with this challenge, our agencies will be able to formulate a coordinated strategy carrying the ways to expand cooperation in this common battle against an invisible opponent”.

“It is our essential duty to encourage independent and professional journalism. The public needs more than ever reporters who will be able to penetrate into complex social, economic and political situations in the world today. It is our duty to focus on elite journalism without falling into the trap of the Internet’s quick gains,” the ATA director said in front of the delegations of some of the most important press agencies in Europe and the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama.

In his turn, the head of the Albanian government underscored the need for prudent measures be taken in what regards the sanctions against calumny and fake news, in order to find a balance between the need for quality information that guarantees all human rights and liberties and, on the other hand, the necessity to not limit free speech.

The news agencies do not produce information solely, but must analyse them and offer the people the truth, using artificial intelligence, said on Monday during the conference the General Director of the Polish Press Agency PAP, Wojciech Surmacz. He admitted that this is difficult, however, due to the financial problems and the lack of technology, but news agencies can overcome these inconveniences by organizing themselves and working together to fight against fake news and for the truth, because truth is what makes us feel free.

In his turn, the director of the Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform, Oleksander Kharchenko, noted that some fake news are sometimes hard to detect and as such represent an even greater threat, mentioning, in this context, among others, the Russian disinformation propaganda.

The Director of the Greek press agency ANA-MPA, Michalis Psilos, put forth that fake news have existed forever and it is not easy for news consumers to discern between fact and fabrication. However, there are resources and techniques to separate them and this is an important objective for news agencies around the world, because fake news attacks the information system of society and raises doubts regarding the credibility of mass-media.

The phenomenon of fake news is not a novelty, said the Director of the Macedonian Press Agency MIA, Marian Tanushevski, adding that press agencies should be the backbone of professional journalism. Fake news can take on many different forms and the fabricated content may affect the lives of citizens, can affect the functioning of political institution and may influence the democratic decision-making process, said the MIA director.

The “News Agencies vs. Fake News” conference took place Monday and Tuesday in the Albanian capital.

Foto credit: Azer Tag

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