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DISINFOGENICS 

 

TRAINING JOURNALISTS TO COMBAT DISINFORMATION AND FAKE NEWS

 

Disinformation is a real problem around the globe and in Pakistan with very real consequences and economic cost. European Centre of Studies and Initiatives estimates it to be a whopping $78 billion to the world in 2020 alone – 3 times the size of Pakistan’s export capacity. The issue of Fake News in Pakistan is not new at all. Malicious political campaigns and polio are to be remembered.

 

Disinformation has become an increasing problem in the 21st century, especially within the realm of social media. Most recent examples would be the Covid-19 Pandemic and its vaccine related disinfo campaigns mending the United Nations to name it “the Disinfodemic”. Disinformation and fake news are ‘an ongoing’ major threat to journalism, independent media, and society in Pakistan. It has the potential to polarize public opinion, to promote violent extremism and hate speech and, ultimately, to undermine democracy and reduce trust in the democratic processes. Pakistani journalists in newsrooms and field are confronted with fabricated, misleading imposter and manipulated content without resources and capacity to counter them effectively.

 

Furthermore, social media has lowered barriers for entry into reporting, which has both democratized media and created more opportunities for the spread of false narratives that can be disbursed at rapid rates with real-world implications for marginalized and minority communities in specific and the public at large. Unfortunately, authentic journalists and digital content producers are facing capacity challenges to counter disinformation and fake news on digital/social media.

 

The challenge for democracy and media today is how to bring a new era of enlightenment, where truth truly matters.

 

About the Program

 

Global Neighbourhood for Media Innovation (GNMI) launched Disinfogenics in 2019.

 

The primary objective of the program is to foster knowledge, skills, and tools for developing innovating response systems, strategies, and solutions to curb disinformation in all its forms. It does so by promoting in-depth understanding of disinformation, its roots, causes, its forms and transmutations, its delivery mechanisms, its evolution, factors involved in its cultivation and its impact on humanity.

 

Following achievements have been made under the program:

 

  • Provision of relative and much needed knowledge and skills to counter disinformation to the journalist community through 12 trainings.
  • Effectively voicing the importance of independent media and highlighting threats of disinformation during a difficult time of disinfodemic and media independence by developing and disseminating videoswebinarsinfographics, and other IEC materials.
  • 93% participants and viewers indicated that such initiatives should continue to benefit journalists and struggle for independent media in Pakistan.
  • 77% increase in knowledge, critical skills, and awareness regarding the training topics has been recorded.
  • 89% of workshops’ participants gained knowledge through fact-checking, data and investigative journalism practices.
  • 93% webinar participants and videos audience indicated positively about increase in capacity, relevance, helpfulness and continuation of the content to support freedom of information and independent media.         

 

The Disinfogenics program stream is evolving but it is nevertheless one of GNMI’s most important initiatives in its efforts to strengthen media and democracy in Pakistan.