Media literacy

Calls for extensive media education

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The main teachers trained in media education in Battambang on December 13, 2021. MoEYS Cambodia

Media professionals say they want to see large-scale media education efforts for the public to prevent the spread of messages and videos containing fake news and fake news and to help the average person be able to distinguish objective content from information that is strongly shaped by a political or ideological agenda.

The Ministry of Information’s fake news monitoring commission reported that in 2021, a total of 1,938 sources were identified as disseminating fake news, including video content and comments insulting the country’s leaders, a slight increase compared to 2020.

Pen Bona, president of the Cambodian Journalists Club, said one of the keys to solving the problems posed by fake news and fake news is to teach young people and the general public media literacy skills. so that they know the basics of verifying the information using some of the methods employed by journalists.

A Cambodian Journalists Alliance (CamboJA) intern named Chea Sokny, who completed the organization’s fact-checking training course, said the course was a great resource for journalists in online and in print media and has communicated the importance of verifying the accuracy of all information before it is shared or published.

“After completing this training, journalists who take the course are better able to produce topical content with accurate information that will not confuse or pollute the public’s current affairs discussions with lies. , which is really important for the development of Cambodia’s local media, “she said.

Course instructor Kann Vicheika told The Post that imparting functional knowledge of how journalism is supposed to work to all young people has become increasingly important in the context of “the era. information ”in which we live.

He said young people today – especially those in the provinces – don’t know how to properly analyze the information they consume on social media like Facebook in order to sort out true from false or rumors from verified facts and , therefore, they read and then share fake news frequently and even tend to believe the fake news rather than the real information.

“We have seen that some of this false information has taken people to court to face libel or fraud charges – some of them carrying a prison sentence – because they shared false information that violated Cambodian laws or caused real damage to someone else’s reputation or business, ”she said.

Vicheika said that if young people are not trained to think critically and question what they encounter on social media, they will face all kinds of issues throughout their lives and that is why teaching media literacy to everyone, but especially to young people, is so important.

Nop Vy, executive director of CamboJA, said that too often today criticism of those in power ends up being reduced to a “he said, she said” proposition where strong criticism is met by vigorous denials, regardless of the evidence presented and this is inevitably followed by personal attacks on journalists, who can sometimes even face legal consequences for their reporting.

Vy said the media must remain independent and objective in order to maintain public trust and help ensure transparency and promote true reporting so that when factual disputes arise, they can act as ‘referees by presenting evidence to the public showing which claims are true and which are just partisan political attacks.

“We need to be careful when determining what information is right or wrong and whether it is legitimate or agenda-driven criticism. At the same time, being open to criticism when it is legitimate is fundamental for them to be able to respond effectively to social issues, ”said Vy.

According to Vy, CamboJA is working with DW Akademie to organize its fact-checking training course for its Cambodian staff and other members to enhance the capacities and skills of Kingdom journalists and aspiring students to the profession.

“Overall, when we train them on information verification and characterization, our main hope is that they can reliably verify what is true and what is false in the future,” he said. -he declares.

Information Ministry spokesman Meas Sophoan refuted Vy’s claim that legitimate critics are being prosecuted by Cambodian courts.

Sophoan said freedom of the press is protected by the Cambodian constitution and that Articles II and III of the press laws state that journalists have the right to maintain the confidentiality of their sources.

He noted that Cambodian law further stipulates that in order to maintain the independence of the press, pre-publication censorship is prohibited, a legal principle known as “prior restriction” which is only found in newspapers. countries where the standards of freedom of expression are very liberal.

“I do not agree with his suggestion that whenever there is negative criticism against Cambodian leaders and government officials, [the criticisms] are always attacked as false and critics persecuted for it, ”he said, adding that real professional journalists who write accurate information are never prosecuted for it.

Seav Kuoy Yi

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