In the media world, “fake news” is the new frenzy. A term made famous by U.S. President Donald Trump, it has now become an inescapable word in the media’s vocabulary. With the recent state of events, we have gathered five takeaway facts from Frank La Rue, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information at UNESCO, about the whole issue during the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) 2017 in Jakarta.
- “Fake news” is a trap
Well, surprise, surprise! “Fake news” is merely a term and a political attack employed by the extreme right-wing politicians to protect their own self-interests. According to La Rue, the true nature of the word itself hides the intention and the discourses of racism, xenophobia and discrimination of the leaders.
- Role of a journalist as peacemaker
La Rue stressed that a free form of journalism is crucial in democracy building and development in the world. During this period, a journalist should act as the bridge, or the peacemaker, that facilitates the free flow of ideas and information, in line with UNESCO’s vision of bridging peace and unity among people.
- Diverse media are NOT bad things
More media means more choice, right? Media diversity and media pluralism are among the principles that UNESCO fights for. It creates an environment of an open debate whereby the audience actively seeks out information and form their own opinions of what’s wrong and what’s right. And what is the better way to hone the ability to extract truths from lies than by comparisons?
- Ignorance isn’t always a bliss
While we would like to assume that every audience plays an active role, this is unfortunately not the case. The role of journalism today is faced by the mounting challenge of those that would like to keep these people to remain ignorant. Thus, journalists themselves should be the custodian of truth for the audience to build a critical mind so that they will be informed and won’t be easily fooled.
- Free press matters
As part of the Sustainable Development Goals, among the basic conditions needed for development are transparency and guaranteed public access to information. La Rue believes that free press and critical minds are crucial not only as human rights, but also for strengthening development of democracy.