The third panel discussion during Online Safety Summit focused on how the media can help propagate online safety in this age of fake news. Shaili Chopra was in conversation with Hrishikesh Kannan, Radio Producer and Host, Jency Jacob of Boom and Rohini Ramnathan, Radio Host who shared tips and views on the subject.

Need for Fact Checking

Chopra started the conversation by saying that everyone is pretty much relishing the forward news without even thinking twice whether it’s correct. We happily press the forward button. She asked Hrishikesh Kannan if there us a lapse from the fact checkers? In reply, he said, “With the online world, expanding the way it is, it has taken a monstrous form. Media does not make policies. Media’s responsibility is to try to convey the right information. Yes, it is old school journalism but that’s the only big duty of a journalist.”

Media does not make policies. – Hrishikesh Kannan

He further added, “How can we educate the audience to make the right decision? We, as media persons are failing in doing so.” Further, Kanan added that the fundamental duty of the media is, beyond the duty of watchdog, is to dispense the right information.

Fake news

Jency Jacob, said, “Fake news is becoming a harsh reality. Despite all the efforts we are trying to put in to keep our stories factual, to bring back data, going back to the original source, something that a journalist should have always done, we are miserably failing to do that. We are living in a world where people have already decided what they want to believe in. There’s no effort being made to go and check for the sources. We are hungry for quick information. We rely on easy sources. That’s the danger.”

We are hungry for quick information. We rely on easy sources. That’s the danger. -Jency Jacob

Viral News

Today, even channels showcasing real news also crave for viral headlines. Shaili Chopra asked Rohini Ramnathan, if she thinks the problem is with the platform or are we putting too much onus on consumers to make that decision?

Ramnathan replied, “The pressure of being ahead in the game has turned us into compilers rather that informers. Over the years I have noticed how the media is actually run by the catchy news but not factual ones. For my show, I had to reach out to a very prominent celebrity who was rumoured dead and when I called her she picked up the phone. That’s how fake news spreads. Nobody is cross-checking. I think as reporters and editors the onus is on us. Even for WhatsApp news, please check the source first and then forward.”

READ: Know The Laws & Your Rights To Be Safe Online, Say Experts

Tips to avoid fake news

“Everyone has access to mobiles today, but that is also a downside, because anyone can spread fake news. In a country like India, we really can’t blame general people of believing a near-authentic fake news.” Ramnathan said.

The onus is on media to check facts. -Rohini Ramnathan

Jacob said, “First of all WhatsApp is not your news medium. The reason I think people rely on social media platform is that they lack the belief that media will share the entire story with the viewers. The moment you doubt a forward news, go and check the first few lines, search in the Facebook bar or on Google. You will find some signs if it’s a hoax.”

Kannan pointed out, “Every government department has a spokesperson now. So if the news needs to be fact-checked it should come from the origin itself. It is important as citizens to report cyber crime and fake news. Recently, a cyber portal has been launched where you can upload your complaints.”

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