ST to share insights from fight against fake news

Panel discussion at upcoming conference is part of efforts to engage public on the issue

Misinformation hurts.

Still, it happens and continues to spread via social media.

Singapore's leading daily The Straits Times (ST) pitched in to help address fake news after a conference it co-organised in June, which highlighted the extent and complexity of the issue, and its risk to legacy media.

ST rolled out a series of initiatives to raise awareness of the problem both in Singapore and Asia, with member papers of the Asia News Network, an alliance it co-founded comprising 23 news media entities.

ST also sought to engage communities in this endeavour, starting with universities and students, by training people to spot fake news. The paper also offers its askST platform to anyone seeking clarity.

As part of its continuing efforts to engage the public on the issue, editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English/Malay/Tamil Media Group and ST editor Warren Fernandez will join others working in this area at the upcoming Digital Media Asia (DMA) 2017 conference in Singapore and share ST's work and insights from the endeavour.

The session, titled Truth And Trust In The Media - Fighting The Spread Of Misinformation In Asia, will take place on Nov 2, during a three-day conference by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra) that begins on Oct 31 at Orchard Hotel.

Joining Mr Fernandez on the panel discussion will be The Jakarta Post's chief editor Endy Bayuni, Mr Gilles Demptos, director (Asia) at Wan-Ifra, and Professor Lim Sun Sun from the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

The session will be moderated by Mr Andrew Heslop, director of media freedom at Wan-Ifra.

Said Mr Fernandez: "All over the world, there is a surge of interest in keeping things real. Readers are tired of purveyors of false news who deliberately seek to misinform and mislead. Our job in responsible media organisations is to strive to meet readers' needs for reliable and credible information, to help them make sense of the changes taking place all round. Fighting fake news is part of that process."

Mr Demptos said with traditional media facing tech-led disruption, impacting bottom lines, the issue has become even more significant.

"The latest Wan-Ifra World Press Trends report points out that the the news publishing business has shifted from an advertising-centric to an audience-centric model. Over 56 per cent of news media revenue globally comes from their print and digital circulation. In this context, 'trust is the new currency' for news. The spectacular impact of misinformation and hoaxes on social media networks should offer legacy, quality news media an opportunity to stand out and convince their audiences that trustworthy news is rare and valuable," he said.

"Surveys, however, show that trust in traditional media is constantly declining. It is therefore critical for news publishers to counter this trend and to play an active part in the fight against misinformation."

Wan-Ifra's DMA conference will feature round-table talks and masterclasses to grow news media digital revenues. Prominent speakers include Mr Shailesh Prakash, chief information officer at The Washington Post, who will explain how big data allowed the newspaper to develop personalisation features and automation tools to boost its digital subscriptions. It also developed an in-house content management system allowing the newsroom to publish relevant digital content in a more agile and efficient manner.

Other speakers include Mr Gary Liu, chief executive of the South China Morning Post, and Ms Hiromi Onishi, executive director of the Asahi Shimbun.

•More details about the conference can be found here: http://dma.wan-ifra.org

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2017, with the headline 'ST to share insights from fight against fake news'. Print Edition | Subscribe