MEDIA practitioners across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region will convene a regional forum in July to squarely tackle the issue of fake news and how to deal with it.
During a two-day discussion held in Bangkok, Thailand on January 25-26, professional and legitimate media practitioners of the regional bloc expressed alarm about the impact of fake news online and vowed to take a strong action against it.
Journalists, who participated in the 19th general assembly of the Confederation of ASEAN Journalists (CAJ), adopted the “Action Plan 2018 to 2020” aimed at combating the proliferation of fake news, which was brought by advances in communication technology highlighted by the rise of social media, and now affects legitimate journalists across the regional bloc.
The two-day discussion started on Thursday during the CAJ’s board of directors’ meeting and finished the following day during the group’s general assembly held at the Emerald Hotel in Bangkok, which was attended by presidents and officers including the National Press Club of the Philippines (NPC).
Other press organizations who attended include Thailand’s Confederation of Thai Journalists (CTJ), Malaysia’s National Union of Journalists Malaysia (NUJM), Singapore’s Creative Media and Publishing Union (CMPU), Vietnam’s Vietnam Journalists Association (VJA), Indonesia’s Persatuan Wartawan Indonesia (PWI), Cambodia’s Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) and Laos’ Lao Journalists Association (LJA).
The All-China Journalists Association and the Myanmar Journalists Association (MJA) also sent delegates as “observers.”
Thepchai Young, president of the CTJ and also newly-elected president of the CAJ, said the spread of fake news also contributed to the “decline” of “quality” journalism in the mainstream media that made more difficult the latter’s effort to professionalize its ranks and compete with other emerging media platforms in the internet.
NPC president Paul Gutierrez noted that while the Philippines already have laws against cybercrime and data privacy, the Senate is yet to conclude its hearings against fake news and enact a law against it.
Teguh Santosa, of PWI, said while media entities in Indonesia are required to register with the authorities, the problem is distinguishing which ones are fake and which ones are not.
Apart from the “Action Plan 2018 to 2020,” press organizations in the regional bloc are also encouraged to conduct similar forums in their respective countries and to share information that can help them assert the importance of legitimate and mainstream media in society.
The CAJ was founded in 1975 in Jakarta, Indonesia by the five national press organizations Indonesia (Persatuan Wartawan Indonesia), Philippines (National Press Club), Malaysia (Kesatuan Kebangsaan Wartawan Malaysia), Singapore (Singapore National Union of Journalists) and, Thailand (Thai Journalists Association) to foster the cause of a “healthy, free and responsible press” in the region.
Aside from the five charter members, the CAJ now includes the Vietnam Journalists Association (VJA), the Lao Journalists Association (LJA) and the Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ), whose formal membership was also approved during Friday’s general assembly.