Journalists need to boost fact-checking efforts vs. misinformation: professor

Benise Balaoing, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 22 2022 01:38 PM

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MANILA – Journalists must boost fact-checking efforts to better fight misinformation online, a journalism professor said Tuesday.

“In the Philippines, there are only 3 (International Fact-Checking Network)-accredited fact-checking organizations. Tatlo lang. So if I may be allowed to name them, ito yung Vera Files, Rappler, and AFP Agence France-Presse Philippines," said Felipe Salvosa II, University of Santo Tomas journalism program head.

"But the pipeline of fake news and disinformation is, you know, sobrang dami, sobrang lakas... So, I think, three fact-checkers is not enough,” he added.

"Fortunately, there are efforts to incubate yung other fact-checking organizations because ano eh, well, yung trabaho natin as journalists, hindi na lang pwedeng reporting the news. Hindi na lang pwede 'yun,” Salvosa said.

He said fact-checking should be part of the routine of all journalists, consistent with their role of educating the public.

Salvosa’s comments come after experts said that journalists are now pitted against "opinion peddlers" in disseminating information about candidates vying for key national posts in the May elections.

Veteran political strategist Ronald Llamas said the use of influencers, vloggers and "ward leaders" is now pervasive among candidates in the national and local elections.

“Yung iba, nagsimula earlier, several years ago. They create a narrative. Some of them even revise history,” Llamas told ANC’s “Rundown.”

Aside from boosting fact-checking efforts, Salvosa said journalists need to think of more creative ways of reporting the news in order to strike a chord with more audiences nationwide.

“So I think, we have to institute more fact-checking in the newsroom, be more creative in terms of producing and delivering content, perhaps ano, transalating our outputs, our work into the different languages, the regional languages, para mas maintindihan,” he said.

“Kasi tayo, puro tayo English. Ang balita natin English. Paano yung mga ano, nasa mga regions? Ako in my own site, nakikita ko malakas ang hatak ng mga nasa local languages na content, I think because people are also hungry for information that they can understand, digest, and process.”

“It cannot be business as usual now. Yung business as usual natin for the past decade has led to the rising of these fake news and disinformation, misinformation peddlers,” he noted.

“So I hope mas marami pang news organizations that will set up fact-checking units, and as I said nga earlier, mas maraming innovative content, mas maraming compelling content ‘no, kasi we also have our own social media assets, right, aa well-followed,” Salvosa said.

“Except that ano, yung ibang mga content creators masyado silang creative, masyado silang, nag-iinject ng humor. It draws attention, it really commands attention.”

“Yung news, I think if we continue producing, the news, packaging the news the same manner, eventually baka magkaano, we might get drowned out by all of these noisy voices on social media platforms,” the professor warned.

“We have to find a way to reclaim that space that was taken away from us.”

--ANC, 22 February 2022