News Outlets Express Concern Over Widespread Disinformation, Attacks on Journalists

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The 5th World Media Summit in China highlighted the need to maintain ethical journalism in the face of the increased prevalence and impact of disinformation through social media and artificial intelligence tools, as well as attacks targeting journalists. 

Representatives from international news agencies including Anadolu Agency, Reuters, the Associated Press (AP), Agence France-Presse (AFP), TASS and Kyodo took part in the summit organized by Xinhua News Agency in Guangzhou.

Participants highlighted the growing dominance of social media as a source of news and information, the unprecedented impact and prevalence of disinformation through artificial intelligence tools, and the increasing attacks targeting journalists, including life-threatening incidents.

They underscored the multidimensional pressures on public interest journalism during a period when social media’s influence on news and information is rising and attacks on journalists are on the rise.

Melissa Fleming, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, in a video message sent to the opening session of the summit noted the significant challenges faced by independent media worldwide.

She said economic crises were depleting the financial resources of news centers, noting that wars, conflicts and climate change are distancing the masses from the news.

“Public opinion surveys reveal an increasing number of people avoiding reading news, and trust in traditional media organizations is diminishing,” she said.

Safety of journalists in field

Anadolu Deputy Director-General Oguz Enis Peru emphasized that the attacks targeting journalists in Gaza once again demonstrate how journalism is practiced under extremely challenging conditions today.

Peru recalled the tragic incident on Dec. 1 when Anadolu cameraman Montaser Al-Sawaf lost his life in an Israeli airstrike while working as a freelance journalist in Gaza.

“We have nearly 60 journalist personnel in Gaza, all of them carrying out their duties at great personal risk. Our concern for their safety keeps us on edge every day. As Anadolu, despite vital risks, we are making continuous efforts to witness, document and transmit the human tragedy in Gaza to the world, ensuring awareness,” he said.

Peru also pointed out that besides attacks targeting journalists in crisis and conflict zones, the spread of disinformation on the internet and social media platforms increasingly complicates the effort to obtain accurate information and the truth.

He highlighted that this is a shared concern among all officials and representatives of news organizations participating in the summit.

The head of Reuters News Agency, Sue Brooks, highlighted that in recent years, the shocks created by COVID-19, conflicts and humanitarian crises in Ukraine and Gaza, along with technologies led by artificial intelligence have accelerated the transition in media dominance toward digital, mobile and internet platforms.

Emphasizing the pressures and challenges faced by news organizations due to internal and external conditions, Brooks said: “Our work, as journalists, has never been so important in any period of history, and the consequences have never been so risky and weighty.”

Brooks noted that newsrooms and journalists are tense and fatigued due to the heavy workload and risks.

She mentioned the sorrow that engulfed Reuters when their cameraman Issam Abdullah lost his life due to a rocket attack while documenting conflicts on the Israel-Lebanon border.

Source : aa