Media Experts Launch Anti-Fake News Handbook

Matichon reports on a website with the URL Matichon-Online which posted fake news in May 2016. Image: Matichon
Matichon reports on a website with the URL Matichon-Online which posted fake news in May 2016. Image: Matichon

BANGKOK — Media experts have written a handbook to help Thai journalists avoid falling for fake news, in a world where readers can no longer take the truthfulness of news for granted.

The 44-page handbook, named “Fact-Check in Action” and funded by the US Embassy in Bangkok, is part of a broader project where over 200 media practitioners, students and academics have participated in workshops on news literacy.

Jessada Salathong, a communications lecturer at Chulalongkorn University and a co-author of the handbook, fears Thai media is no longer prepared for the challenges of distinguishing between trustworthy and false information, and maintaining trust from readers.

“Fake news is affecting reporting on politics. Fake news is affecting reporting on engineering. Fake news is affecting reporting on health. We need to get experts involved,” said Jessada, at the launch of the handbook at a conference on fake news at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Communication Arts.

Since Thailand has no organization dedicated to independently fact-checking news, the handbook represents a concrete attempt at building cyber media literacy at the level of journalists and media practitioners.

Those interested in the handbook should contact Chulalongkorn’s Faculty of Communication Arts.

Media in Thailand appear increasingly alarmed over the crisis of disinformation in media, with at least three conferences on fake news held in Bangkok in the past two months alone.

Besides training media practitioners, Jessanda supports the idea of establishing an independent fact-checking not-for-profit, as has been proposed by some local experts and professionals.

“It would be good for the public to have an independent body that people can trust, which neither belongs to the government nor is controlled by capital,” he said.

But Jessada warned that fake news is not just a local phenomena, but can trickle into Thai media from foreign sources. The international nature of disinformation makes cross-border collaboration between fact-checking organizations necessary.

Meanwhile Zaharom Nain, a media scholar from the Malaysian campus of Nottingham University, called for “progressive” education of the public on the root causes behind fake news, such as state and corporate influences over media.

“It is difficult to address and correct all these things,” said Nain.

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