SHUSHA, Azerbaijan: The three-day Shusha Global Media Forum concluded in Shusha on Sunday after tailoring a vision that the modernization of the global information environment, the widespread use of advanced technologies in the media industry, and overarching digitization have urged an emergence of a new and dynamic media landscape worldwide and the media practitioners should work together to mitigate harmful and damaging influences that the social media like fake news and untrue stories.
The majority of practitioners expressed their concerns about blurring the line between a true, bonafide, and professional journalist and the so-called citizen journalist.
Addressing the first Session of the Shusha Global Forum on “New Media in the Era of the 4th Industrial Revolution ”, the Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan, who is also the Head of the Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration, Hikmat Hajiyev said that media philosophy is drastically changing and the threat to receive fake and untrue news is getting higher and higher every day because everybody who can use social media platform is providing “news” to the public.
However, he also indicated that social media had resulted in an information revolution but there is a need to protect ethical journalism and the real threat is being faced by professional bonafide journalists.
Hikmat Hajiyev was of the view that information flow can not be controlled in the 21st century but professional journalism must not die due to this new cadre of journalists who can produce untrue and fake news and can launch it on the information horizon—the social media networks. He also talked about the 20th century in which information flow was controlled and many disastrous events like the Khojaly genocide had been denied proper placement in international media.
Participants of the forum confirmed the reality that the acceleration of industry trends has prompted local and international media outlets to rethink and re-design their business models as technological progress penetrates every segment of modern society and significantly impacts the media industry, leading to fundamental changes and the establishment of new media products and services.
As the new development phase of the modern era, known as “Industry 4.0,” brings many new concepts related to media and presents an array of challenges for traditional and digital media, therefore, the Shusha Global Media Forum focused on analyzing trends in the media industry globally, strengthening national opportunities, expanding and developing international cooperation, and exploring innovative opportunities.
The majority of the speakers were of the view that the growth of digital communication and information technologies had accelerated the development of the global information society and provided for the modernization of the media to meet new challenges. Leading sector practices enable information to reach a wide audience in a short time using multiple channels and here was the big risk of mingling fake news with true news. The rapid and wide spread of information and disinformation is a global issue due to the instant digital transformation of content into products.
Media practitioners emphasized that communicating information in the right form, at the right time, and in the right ways is extremely crucial to both the local and global agenda and considering the value of information in people’s social consciousness and the important role of information and communication technologies gains a completely new meaning, accompanied by the constant changes in the tools, producers, and consumers, as well as the role of media in different processes.
The urge for traditional media to remain relevant as a source of news in the race against new media types provides a favorable ground for the development of many new concepts, principles, and new types of media content in journalism. The changes emerging in the field of media demand greater use of new types of journalism and wide application of new trends in a diverse environment for the more successful delivery of news to the target audience.
Speakers were of the view that the process of media integration into the global network is about combining different technologies on a single platform and the design of new products, as well as the dissemination of information from one source by different methods and technical means simultaneously. In today’s multimedia environment, online media and other internet platforms provide convenient and prompt access to information from various sources, thereby increasing the amount of digital information.
Participants agreed that the transformation had created new and broad opportunities for a greater number of people to interact with each other and join public discussions and the role of the media in daily life and the scope of its influence kept growing and had raised questions to reconsider the working principles of the traditional media and the role of the media in modern societies.
A number of participants expressed their concerns that the transmission of information to millions of people in a short time by using new means and tools had a serious impact on the quality and credibility of information being transferred to the end users.
In the new media environment, the intermediary activity in the transmission of information differs from the activity of traditional media sources. While traditional media outlets, such as audiovisual and print media, are the main producers of news, online media with little investment in news production is critically challenging the traditional news industry. These developments favor the acceleration of the media transformation but had raised serious threats to the credibility of news because investigating the credibility of information, checking the transparency of information, and verifying data are time-consuming and expensive processes while users want to get information about an event “instantly”, thereby increasing the risk of receiving fake information. Speakers were of the view that consumers share responsibility through making conscious decisions of checking what kind of source of material they are opting to read.
Participants were of the opinion that increasing media literacy was of pivotal importance to combat false or misleading information and harmful or illegal online content and definitely contributes to media diversity and pluralism.
The Chief Editor Dispatch News Desk (DND) News Agency Agha Iqrar Haroon was of the opinion that today’s fake news wasn’t a new phenomenon rather fake news was born when the first newspaper was published but at that time fake news was called “propaganda”. Yesteryear’s propaganda is today’s fake news. Nothing has changed in dynamics if you talk about real journalism. User takes responsibility for what kind of media outlet he or she is using for getting news. Moreover, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is bringing more fake information and user should only get connected with reliable news sources.
“Every professional editor understands that his/she is the prime target of those who wish to install fake news (propaganda) it is up to the skills of the editor how to keep clean his/her media hub from being used by others for their ulterior motives”, commented Iqrar Haroon.
Important points raised by speakers are hereunder:
“Disseminating unbiased and fact-based news, as well as preventing false and misleading information, is one of the main conditions for the creation of a healthy information environment, namely given the overall developments on the global landscape. Indisputably, in an environment of crisis, unexpected or difficult-to-predict force majeure events, the existence of mechanisms to inform the public, as well as prompt and professional journalism, is of critical importance for the delivery of accurate information about the events from the first source to the relevant channels. Journalists, acting under great pressure in hot spots and conflict zones, perform an important mission by collecting and delivering full information about the developments on the ground, and in many cases increase the prospects for long-term progress and peace.
A session was also delegated to “Conflict journalism” as it is one of the most essential areas in journalism, serves to bring serious human rights violations, war crimes, and other issues to the attention of the international community, implement international humanitarian law and contribute to the prevention of its violation. In this respect, ensuring the safety of media representatives for journalists to fulfill their professional duties and serve society is one of the most pressing issues of recent times. For this purpose, it becomes more and more critical to research and develop a range of advanced and successful strategies to protect journalists’ safety and to provide them with the necessary equipment”.
The forum participants had an opportunity of interacting with President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev who had a three-hour-long candid communication with foreign journalists and shared his ideas about emerging media and the need to save traditional media in an ever-changing media scenario.
While appreciating the positive role of media in nation-building, President Ilham Aliyev said that media keeps him updated about what is going on across the country and such information helps him to manage good governance and mitigate injustice if it happens anywhere in the Caucasus country.
President Ilham Aliyev shared his political, administrative, and foreign affairs philosophy that has brought exceptional economic growth, remarkable social and political stability, and exemplary defense and strategic success to Azerbaijan under his leadership.
Azerbaijan’s president said that social as well as traditional media are excellent tools for getting information about what is happening in the country and it helps to mitigate bureaucratic glitches by providing information if something wrong is happening anywhere in the country.
President Ilham Aliyev was of the view that responsible media plays a pivotal role in good governance because it is a counter-check over the bureaucratic system.