‘Ethical reporting needed to counter disinformation’

(From second right) Ooi, Chow and McFeeters sharing a light moment with media representatives who took part in the tech camp in Batu Ferringhi.

THE way forward for journalists is to be ethical in ensuring the truth is reported while keeping abreast of new developments.

Discussing the importance of ethical journalism, the “TechCamp Malaysia 2022: ‘Smart Journalism, Healthy Democracy” event touched on countering disinformation for a healthier democracy.

The speakers with media backgrounds touched on political disinformation, data visualisation, maximising impact, newsgame, election data sources, social media for political reporting, media storytelling and design thinking during the recent three-day camp.

Organised by the Penang Institute with the United States Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, the camp saw 33 participants from various newsrooms in the country engage with the speakers. They pitched their solutions to counter disinformation and stood a chance to apply and receive grants of up to US$6,000 (RM25,263).

Penang Institute executive director Datuk Dr Ooi Kee Beng said the camp aimed to provide emerging and mid-career journalists with the digital skills to counter disinforma-tion, particularly in political and electoral reporting.

“Even before Covid-19, the world was living in a new normal because of the impact of social media and smartphones.

“These changes are disruptive and transformative.

“Covid-19 has further forced us to admit that media and information literacy is a survival skill in the 21st century.

“Knowing what to believe is necessary and a measure of intelligence,” he said in his speech during the closing ceremony in Batu Ferringhi.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, who was the guest of honour at the closing of the camp, said journalists had an ethical responsibility to report the truth.

Chow, who said he was a journalist earlier in his career, stressed that it was important to tell the truth as the reports could have far and wide ramifications in many circum-stances.

“A strong and healthy democracy relies on people who have access to reliable, unbiased, and independent information.

“In a liberal democracy, the government’s power is separated into the independent executive, legislature and judiciary branches to prevent concentration of power.

“Mass media has been regarded as the fourth estate to supplement the three branches of government, providing a check and balance.

“The media is crucial in scrutinising governmental affairs and policies and in exposing corruption as well as holding those in power accountable to the public.

“Therefore, to say that journalists must have an ethical responsibility to report the truth is not an overstatement,” Chow added.

Also present at the closing of the tech camp was United States Ambassador to Malaysia Brian D. McFeeters.

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