Tech, journalism, community crucial in 'battle for facts': Nobel laureate

05/29/2022 05:48 PM
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Maria Ressa. CNA file photo
Maria Ressa. CNA file photo

Taipei, May 29 (CNA) Nobel Peace Prize laureate and renowned journalist Maria Ressa said Sunday that technology, journalism and community action are key factors in the current fight against disinformation, which she called the "battle for facts."

As traditional media is under attack from geopolitical power plays, authoritarian regimes, and big technology social media platforms, "we have lost trust" among the people, Ressa said in a keynote address at the virtual 2022 Asia Journalism Forum.

Ressa, co-founder of the Philippines-based digital news organization Rappler.com, said this is the most difficult time to be a journalist.

The Facebook algorithm has "polarized and radicalized" people, and the Internet has now become a place for "weaponized propaganda work" to promote hate, anger, and conspiracy theories, instead of facts and truth, while tearing down journalists' credibility, she said.

"Without facts, you can't have truth. Without truth, you can't have trust," said Ressa, a Filipino-American who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 for her commitment to free expression, human dignity and democratic government in reporting on the administration of the now outgoing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

The key to winning the "battle for facts" is a three-pronged strategy that incorporates technology, journalism, and community, Ressa said in her address titled "Journalism under Siege: For Whom the Bell Tolls."

Social media platforms need guardrails, which require content moderation and collaborative fact-checking efforts, said Ressa, who co-chairs the International Fund for Public Interest Media.

She also proposed strengthening journalism, helping to fund independent news entities, and building communities of action that would stand up for democratic values.

Ressa, 58, is an award-winning journalist who opened and ran CNN's Jakarta bureau from 1995 to 2005 and later headed the newsroom of ABS-CBN, the biggest broadcaster in the Philippines, before co-founding Rappler.

On June 15, 2020, a court in Manila found her guilty of cybercrimes under the country's controversial Anti-Cybercrime law, a decision that was condemned by human rights groups and journalists as an attack on press freedom. Ressa is now on bail as she appeals the sentence.

The 2022 Asia Journalism Forum, organized by the Taipei-based the Foundation for Excellent Journalism Award, was held virtually Saturday and Sunday.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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