Combat misinformation thru fact-checking, future journos urged

·2 min read

UPCOMING journalists are urged to continue practicing “fact-checking” and combat trolls through truth-telling amid the threat of disinformation and phishing in social media.

A veteran journalist, a historian, and a social media expert gave the advice to more than 300 mass communication students and faculty from eight Cebu colleges and universities during the 16th run of SunStar Cebu’s “Reaching Out to Future Journalists” forum at the University of the Philippines-Cebu Performing Arts Hall, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.

Christian Esguerra, veteran journalist and host of “Facts First,” emphasized the importance of debunking disinformation and providing truthful news reporting.

Esguerra lamented that he often encountered hate comments during his program despite discussing legitimate issues concerning current events especially when it comes to the rise of the Marcoses and the disinformation connected to them.

Esguerra said most people are subscribers to the truth but divided by different fragments or bubbles of reality.

“The challenge is how do we establish intersections. How do we connect those bubbles that are existing separate from the other,” Esguerra added.

Esguerra urged future journalists to use social media platforms as “line truth networks” to combat trolls online, disseminate facts and call out misleading information being peddled online.

He also urged future journalists, historians and even social media influencers to expose themselves in various social media platforms aside from Facebook and Twitter to combat misinformation.

Esguerra said social media platforms like Tiktok and Youtube have become a haven for misinformation because of the lack of users who can counter them.

“You have to band together and populate the platforms in order to address these problems. At pag-aralan natin (And let’s study) how to appeal to the emotion without abandoning reason,” Esguerra said.

Challenge historical revisionism

Manolo Quezon, historian and columnist for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, expressed his concern over the continuous historical revisionism, which he said misleads today’s youth and their decisions.

“You as a reporter, as a columnist, as an editorial writer must revisit the past, never forgetting that you are also challenged to tell a story. To make sense of the facts. To turn the facts into something so grilling, so convincing, so vivid and so real that it will be internalized by your readers,” Quezon said.

Being critical vs. phishing

Elijah Mendoza, PLDT and Smart digital communications senior manager, talked about the increasing problem of phishing that, he said, is a problem not only in the Philippines.

Mendoza advised the youth on the importance of being critical, especially when receiving calls, texts, emails and other forms of communication from unverified sources.

Held in line with the 30th celebration of Cebu Press Freedom Week from Sept. 17 to 24, the forum was organized by SunStar Cebu in partnership with Smart Communications Inc., PLDT, UP Cebu, Cebu Caritas, Cebu Pacific, Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corp. and Innopub Media.