PAP conference addresses threats of fake news

Conference participants took part in a debate conducted by the PAP president entitled “War in the media”. Radek Pietruszka/PAP

Participants in the fourth Media of the Future conference, organised by PAP, have highlighted the importance of joint action to tackle the problem of disinformation and fake news.

Opening the conference in Warsaw on Tuesday, PAP President Wojciech Surmacz cited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who on the first day of Russia's invasion said: "When you attack us, you will see our faces, not our backs", and stressed the role of disinformation in the Ukraine war.

The PAP president said it was not necessary to travel to Ukraine to "meet that evil."

"It's enough to read or watch the news to smell the scent of lies, propaganda and fake news," Surmacz said. "How do you cope with it? What to do with these real, awful stories? How to tell them to the world? Today we will try to find an answer to that question. We will see if we will be successful. It is not easy but I believe it is possible."

Conference participants took part in a debate conducted by the PAP president entitled 'War in the media,' during which European Alliance of News Agencies Secretary-General Alexandru Giboi noted that the public have not been through media school and do not fully know how the media works.

The solution is two-fold, he said: educating not only journalists but also training the public in how to use the media, otherwise it will be very difficult to manage the situation, he argued.

The Polish government's plenipotentiary for GovTech, Justyna Orlowska, added that investment in education plays a key role. "We do it together with PAP and NGOs. We organise meetings in which students can participate and win prizes for identifying fake news," she said.

Summarising the debate, the chief foreign editor of Ukrainian agency Ukrinform, Nataliia Kostina, described the problem of disinformation as sophisticated, commenting that even politicians in the West did not know how to counteract fake news.

She said she would like to see the media act collectively to find solutions before politicians create them and added that journalists needed to keep their eyes open and that the staff of all agencies and of every medium should know what they are dealing with.