Fighting fake news at a two-day forum in June

A journalist poses reading a satirical fake news story on the Southend News Network website in London on March 31, 2017.
A journalist poses reading a satirical fake news story on the Southend News Network website in London on March 31, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - For two days in June, journalists, publishers and policymakers will discuss concrete ways to fight the spread of fake news and improve media literacy in Asia.

The event, titled "Keep it Real: Truth and Trust in the Media", is organised by The Straits Times and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra).

Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam will give the opening address.

Participants will examine practical fact-checking projects from Asia and around the world on the first day of the conference.

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On day two, they will split into three workshops to discuss and identify concrete fact-checking measures and projects, including media literacy programmes and the legal and regulatory framework to tackle misinformation.

The event will be held on June 19 and 20 at the Singapore Management University's School of Law Building.

Mr Warren Fernandez, The Straits Times editor and editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English/Malay/Tamil Media group, said the spread of fake news around the world highlights the need for good, credible and reliable journalism.

"Media organisations have an interest in retaining the trust of their readers," he said.

"Democracies have an interest in ensuring that they have media organisations that meet voters' needs for reliable information, to help them make good choices. This forum will delve into how these interests are best served today," he added.

Fake news has emerged as a growing problem around the globe, including in Singapore.

For instance, the website All Singapore Stuff published an article last November that the rooftop of a flat at Punggol Waterway Terraces had collapsed.

Police and civil defence officers plus equipment were sent to investigate what turned out to be a hoax.

Mr Gilles Demptos, the Asia director at Wan-Infra, said news publishers have a moral responsibility to fight fake news, beyond their own publications,

"It is the core mission of authentic journalism to provide society with objective, verified information which is an essential basis for any consistent democratic debate," he said.

The conference is organised in partnership with The Canadian High Commission, Facebook, Google, German political organisation Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the National Library Board and the Singapore Management University.

Members of the public can attend. Those interested can register at http://www.wan-ifra.org/truth_media_event.

Tickets cost $125 for members of the public and $100 for Wan-Ifra members.