From June 17-18, 1989, the Vietnam News Agency organised the 10th OANA Executive Board Meeting, the 10th Technical Group Meeting and the sixth Editorial Workshop. VNA/VNS File Photo
HÀ NỘI — Members of the Organisation of Asia-Pacific News Agencies (OANA) agreed that it’s time to use every advantage to develop mechanisms in the fight against fake news, and all media outlets should not compromise truth, accuracy and accountability for speed.
Given the context that fake news is spreading and harming nations, the Bahrain News Agency (BNA) affirmed that it does not compromise in its quest for honest reporting of the events in the country and around the world.
As local, regional, and international events require regular and prompt coverage in the news, the BNA assumes the responsibility of contributing effectively to keeping the international community well-informed on events and conferences, as well as on contexts and outcomes.
The agency shared its experience in keeping to the golden rule of not falling for fake news stories, no matter how genuine they are made to look or sound.
It also has created win-win situations to exchange credible news with other agencies in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, and signed agreements with some universities and research centres in order to boost chances of dealing with only factual news and analyses.
The BNA has also trained its staff on the best practices to verify all news that it receives via email, fax, phone calls, and messages or that its monitoring team spots on websites.
First Deputy Director General of Russia’s TASS news agency Mikhail Gusman said that the first step would be forming close ties among news agencies, possibly in a traditional alliance like the OANA, he suggested, stressing on the need to give a clear definition of “fake news”, along with legal arguments and regulations.
According to Gusman, the OANA is not only a venue for news agencies to share experience, but also to make important decisions affecting the stability of the global information space.
Meanwhile, the Republic of Korea (RoK)’s Yonhap news agency shared that the country’s media outlets are strengthening their fact-checking mechanisms to prevent damage from spreading fake news and to allow the readers to decide what the facts are when there are conflicting versions of stories.
Yonhap, the RoK’s premier newswire service, set up a fact-checking committee and has since made it a permanent team in an effort to contribute to a virtuous cycle in the local media market and to provide news that is fast, precise, and balanced.
Yonhap’s fact-checking team was officially launched in April 2018 as part of the newsroom. Foreign correspondents and reporters can pitch in by writing articles tagged with “fact check” to highlight issues that require the separation of facts from untruths. The aim is not to limit fact-checking to specific sections or issues.
Fact-checking has now become one of the most important concerns for Korean media. Broadcasters and newspapers have separate teams of people focused directly on this issue.
Yonhap’s fact-checking team filed 140 articles over the one-year period following its launch, identifying the facts in the coverage of politics, business, society, culture, science, and other areas of news. To deal with fake news on YouTube, Yonhap launched a video fact-check service named “Weekly Fact Check” on March 8 this year, it said.
Nurini Kasssim, CEO of Bernama News Agency from Malaysia, said it was important for the mainstream media, which is slowly losing out to social media as the main source of news and information, to regain the trust of the public, especially the younger generation.
“It is not an easy task for the mainstream media to regain the trust of the public.
“Nevertheless, it is not a battle that cannot be won. We have to innovate and come up with the right strategies,” she said.
Despite the transformation in the field of information dissemination, many people still yearn for truth in the news they digest.
“News agencies must engage in constructive journalism and not just harp on negative issues that can turn away consumers,” she said.
Sharing measures to win global public trust, Director General of Turkey’s Anadolu Agency Senol Kazanci said that news agencies should grow continuously, increase production and keep up the quality of its services.
He shared that AA is the dominating primary news source for the Turkish media, which proves that the agency has won the public trust as the mainstream news source in Turkey.
To that end, AA has increased its broadcast languages up to 13, positioned itself in a global photo distribution network with its high quality photos, increased the number of its worldwide offices to 41 and representatives to 100, signed cooperation agreements with 70 leading news agencies and gained subscribers from 76 countries.
Presently, the agency is providing news services with the staff from 124 different nationalities, he added
As part of efforts to verify information circulating on the internet and make it useful for news coverage, Kyodo News created the “D-Watch” team in the summer of 2012. Since then, the team has been monitoring various websites and social media, like Facebook and Twitter, every day from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and regularly reports to the News Department’s nerve centre, called the News Center, about newsworthy information. The D-Watch team is operated independently from the newsroom by young people familiar with social media, including part-time university students.
If the News Center judges that it is better to cover something, based on information from the D-Watch team, it instructs news sections to send reporters to the spot where the news is happening. Reporters verify the information on the spot, and write news articles and take photos as well as videos if necessary. Kyodo reporters directly contact witnesses or information providers via social media and obtain more details, photos and videos. On the other hand, news sections may ask the D-Watch team to closely monitor information on websites and social media when a big accident or a huge natural disaster happens.
Information from the D-Watch team has sometimes resulted in breaking news stories. For example, the team detected information in June last year that a man with a knife was attacking passengers on a “shinkansen” bullet train. Based on the information from the D-Watch team, the City News Section and the Yokohama Bureau dispatched reporters and they were able to report news stories about the incident earlier than other media outlets. When a man rammed his car into pedestrians on Takeshita Street in Harajuku, a popular tourist destination in Tokyo, in January this year, injuring eight people, reporters from the City News Section were able to contact some witnesses with the help of the D-Watch team.
In addition to monitoring information on websites and social media by itself, the D-Watch team is now using an AI-assisted system called “FASTALERT”. The system, developed by JX Press Corp., detects accidents, disasters and other newsworthy things at an early date, collecting information posted by witnesses on social media.
Twitter and Facebook platforms
Meanwhile, the Montsame News Agency of Mongolia said to cope with the shift of new content consumption behaviour, focusing on video content and YouTube platform, the agency has successfully broadcasted news content through Twitter and Facebook platforms from September 2017.
Noting that the main criterion for broadcasting information using YouTube is speed, especially in breaking news, and quality issues, the agency stressed the importance of increasing breaking news and video news. Video news is taken from the original source and there will be no chance for it to be fake. And it would help to solve such issues as fake news and verified news, and how to win back trust of costumers who often trust basic information, the agency said.
To consolidate the position of the OANA member agencies in the global news network, the agency suggested improving the usage of the OANA’s website, increasing the supply of video news to OANA websites, and paying attention to developing Facebook and Twitter pages.
The Australian Associated Press (AAP), meanwhile, is using its strong culture of innovation to create new opportunities and new products.
AAP's news diaries and planning platform reduce unnecessary duplication of work for its subscribers.
To ensure the newswire is relevant, AAP has developed strong usage analytics for its content to understand who takes its stories, how they are used and how deeply the subscribers’ audiences are engaged in AAP content. This information can influences decisions on news coverage.
AAP has grown in photographic business and generated strong income.
AAP also launched initiatives such as Fact Checking, which holds political figures to account as it highlights false claims make in public statements.
Mobile, visual, intelligent and digital products
Sun Yong, President of Xinhua’s Asia-Pacific Bureau, said the agency has been working hard to innovate their news products, changing from mainly serving traditional media to various types of users and their different needs.
It has rolled out different services for new media and short video media, and increased mobile, visual, intelligent and digital products and so on. Currently, Xinhua produces an average of 100 short videos every day.
The agency builds technological construction as its core competitive power, and now has a technology team of nearly 1,000 people.
It has established an all-media reporting, editing and releasing platform, combining multiple functions together including planning, news gathering, manufacturing, feedback analysis, and data statistics. The platform is now being used throughout the agency.
Xinhua has also built an open news live broadcast “Cloud Platform”. Now more than 3,100 Chinese media organizations have joined the platform, and the agency conducts nearly 400 live broadcasts of various kinds every day.
Sun Yong said the agency has cooperated with China’s biggest e-commerce company Alibaba and set up a new media technology company, and launched a “Media Brain” platform, the first-of-its-kind in China, that brings cloud computing, the Internet of Things, Big Data and AI technology into news production.
On the platform, the news gathering, production and distribution of a video are completely undertaken by machines, and the whole process only takes a few seconds, he said.
According to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) of Iran, in response to the latest trends among the audience and taking technological developments into consideration, IRNA has increased its active engagement in the web and social networks through its multimedia services.
From April 2018 to March 2019, over a period of 11 months, the agency has published 125,208 photo frames, including both photo reports and images that are attached to news articles.
IRNA published 2,881 videos in the same period. The videos have been posted both on IRNA official website and on Aparat—an Iranian video sharing site like YouTube.
During that period of time, IRNA also published 294 infographics and 574 audio reports.
IRNA Persian page on Instagram has 155,000 followers. This number is remarkable since Associate Press and AFP have 342,000 and 439,000 followers on Instagram, respectively.
Furthermore, IRNA releases the latest news through Twitter and the Iranian network of Soroush.
At the same time, IRNA produces long reports, essays and news bulletins for its specific audience groups. In short, IRNA tries to address the needs of different groups of society via a vast range of products. — VNS