SERBIA

HOW TO FIGHT AGAINST DISINFORMATION

Aleksandar Milošević, Journalist

Serbian journalist Aleksandar Milošević explains in an interview with FNF Serbia how to fight disinformation and the media's credibility crisis.

There often is a lot of confusion in the context of "fake news" or better "disinformation". Among other things, there is then talk of distortions, lies, deception, propaganda or conspiracy theories. For clarification: What do you consider the core elements of "disinformation"?

Either information that is factually incorrect (fake news in the most literal sense) or information that is submitted to the public taken out of context, with key elements of the information missing, disregarding opposing views, presented with bias or by leading the public to the desired interpretation of the given facts. In short, disinformation is any information that is incomplete, misconstrued, and false or presented in a way that hampers the recipients’ ability to reach their own conclusions based on facts and circumstances of the case.

“Try to trace the “viral” story to its root”

In this debate, there always is talk of "media literacy". What do you recommend to your readers or the population in general: How can you still distinguish between reliable and unreliable, true and false in the quicksand that is information?

For the media, we need to go back to the basics: Assess the trustworthiness of the source, try to trace the "viral" story to its root, fact-check and verify before publishing. Try to resist the urge to simply jump on the bandwagon for fear of trailing your competitors. For readers: Your brain is a powerful tool, so use it. Do not simply trust everything you read. Does it make sense? Is it contradictory to what you’ve read elsewhere? If so, try to find out which of the two stories holds. Usually, they cannot both be correct. Journalists try to find several unrelated sources for their stories, so you do the same - read a few different newspapers with different editorial policies to get a wider perspective. The more shocking approach a news outlet takes, the less you should trust it. Moreover, if you simply read something somewhere on the internet, take it as hearsay at best, but never as something you should immediately trust to be true.

Serbian journalists about their daily fight against disinformation.

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