Countering Disinformation and Promoting Ethical Journalism

Global Neighbourhood for Media Innovation, in collaboration with Alumini Exchange Program and World Learning, held a workshop tailored for women. The training was created in order to facilitate the participants understanding in how to challenge fake news, disinformation and malinformation in traditional media and online spaces. The training was held on 4th March, 2020, at 422 Talent, Lahore.

Head trainer and founder GNMI, Najia Ashar presented an overview of the challenges that women face in the media, whether it is electronic, print or digital. According to research women and minorities receive the greatest abuse in media and are misrepresented the most due to unfair and disadvantageous stereotypes. In order to confront and correct these practices the workshop outlined the ways in which women could not only protect themselves from such attacks but also the steps they needed to take to report this behavior, as well as the avenues available to them should they experience any harassment in these spheres.

MIL for Women was a full day workshop and aside from Ashar there were renowned journalists as guest speakers also conducting specialized sessions in order of their expertise and experience. Senior journalist Salman Hassan explained how in a world that is run by 24-hour news channels, being the first to alight upon breaking news is what media houses strive for. In doing so they forgo many foundational journalistic standards and do not verify the news that they are broadcasting, thereby causing increased harm with fake news.

Trainers Seerat Khan and ZainabDurrani, from Digital Rights Foundation, a cyber-advocacy NGO in Lahore, were also present in order to provide the legal and technical background to the participants should they face online abuse and harassment in their use of digital spaces. Their first-hand experience in dealing with complaints from all over Pakistan on their cyber-crime helpline ensures that they know how to proceed when one has been affected by targeted harassment and hate crimes online.

Program anchor and senior journalist Ajmal Jami gave examples of current events and news cycles as a way to demonstrate some recent incidents of fake news taking over the media channels as journalists, anchors included, did not stop to verify the sources of the stories that they were airing. This practice has led to even government officials being reckless and giving out statements that are irresponsible and harmful. The thirst for ratings has undone the progress being made by a free and informed media and for a medium to maintain its credibility it first has to ensure that its sources of information are verified. The participants were all enthusiastic with many tweeting about the new information they learned in order to navigate the social spaces they occupy. The training concluded successfully with a shield and certificate distribution and thank you note by the head trainer.

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