UNA workshop on digital media warns of pandemic of misinformation

UNA workshop on digital media warns of pandemic of misinformation


A virtual workshop organized by the Union of OIC News Agencies (UNA) has warned of the pandemic of misinformation and fake news.

The workshop, “The Future of Digital Media Post Coronavirus Pandemic”, held on Wednesday stressed the seriousness of the profound impact of fake news on the future of media and digital citizenship.

According to UNA, held in partnership with both the Information Department of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Islamic Broadcasting Union (IBU), the workshop was actively attended by more than 150 media professionals from member news agencies, staffers of radio and TV corporations, as well as journalists working for newspapers and electronic platforms in the Islamic world.

Addressing the future of radio and government media, the workshop pointed out that government media can provide a message and special service that is not affected by commercial factors or by advertising industry problems.

The workshop was conducted by Saudi digital media expert Dr. Ammar Bakkar. He said that crises tend to accelerate the trends of change, and that the biggest winner from the pandemic is the digital media, as there has been substantially increased consumption of digital media news.

The crisis also accelerated the plans to develop infrastructure and the fifth-generation (5G) on mobile phones and forced a radical change in people’s habits.

Dr. Ammar Bakkar explained that the period of the pandemic has witnessed a significant shift in technology dependency and the impact of social networks on the general public.

He noted that studies have proven that many people’s behavior during the pandemic depended on imitating what people do on social networks.

The pandemic period also saw a rise in digital media with the people’s need for information, where demand for video and video-on-demand has massively increased while traditional media has seen a sharp decline, he added.

The lecturer listed six fundamental changes in the media industry during the pandemic: (1) the broad economic impacts; (2) the increased distance media work, with the coming into being of new forms of TV software that merge appearance from home with video chat technology; (3) the rise of data and graphics journalism, where the urgent need for automated fact-checking or information-checking systems has emerged in light of the presence of a huge amount of misinformation, as well as the emergence of software to deal with huge amounts of information using artificial intelligence; (4) the increased focus on the local community; (5) the emergence of proactivity and reactivity approaches; and (6) the emergence of more choices and rapid audience change.

The lecturer addressed the elements of the future success of the media organization, including influence and credibility, the rise of social responsibility, and the transformation of TV channels into institutions to produce original content.

Bakkar touched on the future of radio and government media, spelling out that government media can provide a special message and service that is not affected by commercial factors and the problems of the advertising industry, and that government media may be able to raise its credibility as a source of reliable government information.

The expert also talked about the issue of media falsification and the post-truth era, referring to what he called a pandemic of misinformation, the evolution of news falsification and its profound impact on the future of media and digital citizenship, as well as how the media benefit from falsification of news.

Bakkar emphasized the ability of government media, as a reliable source of accurate information, to survive and continue, pointing out that this was revealed by the media performance during the coronavirus pandemic.

He called on state media institutions to move away from traditional methods of work, indicating that the possibility of benefiting from the remote work option allows contracting with distinguished professionals without incurring high material costs.

On credibility, Bakkar noted that the space is open to reliable news and fake news, and the only solution is to make the necessary effort to educate the public about the facts.

The Saudi media expert urged distinguished people in the content industry to take advantage of social media to publish accurate and credible works that would make them a target for attraction by major media organizations.

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