The 10th Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) Editors’ Roundtable (ASEFERT10), an official side-event of the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit (ASEM13) kicked off this afternoon via videoconference under the presidency of H.E. Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Information.

In his keynote address, H.E. Khieu Kanharith spoke highly of the gathering, stressing that the ASEFERT10’s theme focusing on “Strengthening the cooperation between journalists in combating fake news” is both timely and highly relevant to the current situation.

“Fake news a term coined for presenting false or misleading news content aimed at damaging one’s reputation or interest has been around us for a long time. The Cold War after World War II had been through this practice on daily basis. Unfortunately, the advancement of technology and contemporary social media algorithms, has unleashed new possibilities of deception and fabrication and popularised this practice to a new level never seen before,” he said.

The negative impact of fake news and misinformation on politic, economic, security and social order is undeniable, he added, underlining that it disrupts the unity and peace of the country, exacerbates distrust, division and violence among people, and undermine the confidence and trust of the citizens in the media.

According to H.E. Minister, to fight against fake news, the ministry of information and other relevant state agencies have established an anti-fake news committee at the ministerial level in the mid-2020. The committee primarily works to give facts to the public, verifies the sources and sometime takes legal measure. We have employed different approaches to address the issue of fake news.

Moreover, he continued, the ministry uses a Telegram group to facilitate and function as the fact-checking centre. The group members are made up of 6,200 people comprising government officials, authorities, journalists, NGOs, Youth and the public. This approach is cost-effective and able to reduce the fake news substantially. “I strongly believe that we don’t need to have a new law every time we have a new case. Strong leadership, teamwork and cooperation are the best approaches to minimize the spread of fake news,” he said.

Besides, H.E. Khieu Kanharith recommended the journalists and media organisations to take a bold step to strengthen high-quality journalism that builds trust and attracts great audiences. “To regain people’s trust in media, there is a need to produce compelling stories that are relevant, truthful and meant for the public good. In addition, it is important for news organisations to call out fake news and disinformation without legitimising them,” he pointed out.

“We can do this by relying upon our in-house professionals and fact-checkers. The world needs a strong and viable news media that informs citizens about current events and long-term trends,” he said.

For his part, Ambassador H.E. Morikawa Tory, ASEF Executive Director said the issue of fake news is not new, but it has become a more serious problem. It affects society at all levels – from individuals to groupings such as those based on race, language and religion. Fake news also has an impact on major global issues such as climate change and pandemic, as we saw during COVID-19.

H.E. Morikawa Tory stressed that in this light, the role of the media and the journalists is more than ever important.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press

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