Curb spread of false narratives in journalism: US Consul General Jennifer Larson

Consul General, US Consulate General, Hyderabad Jennifer Larson spoke to journalists about the threat posed by disinformation

United States Consulate General Jennifer Larson

United States Consulate General Jennifer Larson

HYDERABAD: Consul General, United States Consulate General, Hyderabad Jennifer Larson spoke to journalists about the threat posed by disinformation and the importance of spotting and debunking false narratives before they enter mainstream reporting on Tuesday.

"There have always been actors looking to spread false information and journalists have always been on the front lines of identifying that information and preventing it from circulating among the broader public," she said at the certificate awards ceremony of the training programme on "Countering Disinformation for Telugu TV Journalists" at the CFRD building on the OU campus here on Tuesday.

Consul General Larson, the Chief Guest of the ceremony, thanked Osmania University for their efforts in providing fact-checking and counter-disinformation resources and best practices to 30-odd journalists in both the Telugu States through a unique programme, jointly organised by the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, OU and the U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad.

"It's important that we work as hard as we can to spot disinformation, because the stakes are high. The whole point of democracy is that we come together as individuals, argue about what we think our elected officials should do, and then hold those elected officials to account. But we can't do that if we're working with bad information," she added.

Vice Chancellor, Osmania University, Prof. D. Ravinder, the Guest of Honour, thanked the U.S. Consulate General, Hyderabad, for choosing the 104-year-old educational institute to train Telugu journalists to counter disinformation. He narrated how false information created trouble in academic settings.

Project Coordinator and Head, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at OU, Prof. Stevenson Kohir, shared the positive impact created by the first-of-its-kind training programme conducted for Telugu TV journalists.

The project "Countering Disinformation for Telugu TV Reporters" was a training programme to train TV journalists as verification experts. The training in the hybrid mode was conducted over eight months.

The objective of the training was to better equip journalists to bust fake news and prevent disinformation and misinformation from creeping into the mainstream media.

Journalists were trained in various types of disinformation and misinformation verification methods; factcheck tools and techniques, methods for finding open data, the legal aspects of misinformation and disinformation, how to verify or fact-check news or videos or text or images; and Rules of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Press Council of India guidelines. Fifty per cent of the trainees were women journalists and five were students from the Department of Journalism.

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