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“Digital Tools for Credible Reporting and Fact-checking” workshop was held in Bijeljina

Alisa Karović

Hotel “Drina” in Bijeljina hosted workshop under the title “Digital Tools for Credible Reporting and Fact-checking” which was organized by Mediacentar Sarajevo and Boram agency within the framework of program supported by European Union. This workshop gathered around 20 journalists from Ugljevik, Zvornik, Brčko, Tuzla and Bijeljina who expressed their interest for utilization of digital technologies for checking up accuracy of information.

With the emergence of electronic media the world began to “shrink” but upon arrival of internet the whole world could be fit into our palm. Today is easier than ever to launch  one’s own “media platform” and use it to launch content that can be entertaining, informative and educative but problematic as well. 

“Purpose of the workshop is to empower media professionals to report credibly in the sphere which is facing new challenges in the form of credibility of information circulating in digital media, which can be credited to even official sources and media agencies. we want to help journalists to learn how to use tools in order to apply basic rules of profession in the digital world – therefore, checking up on credibility of sources and checking multiple sources. For information checking there are tools out there which are free and available online, and that is an asset we want to show to journalists and those who share information,” said Maida Muminović, chief director of Mediacentar, adding that Bijeljina’s workshop is only the first and it would be followed by ones planning to take place in Trebinje, Sarajevo i Tešanj. 

Participants had the opportunity to learn methods and digital tools used for check, verification and monitoring of origin of certain media content. Lectures, presentations, case studies and practical tasks had the focus on: detection of disinformation networks in local media environment; detection of fake accounts on social networks; searching upon original sources of claims, quotations or journalists’ stories and trends in disinformation campaigns with foreign influence.

“Journalism as a profession is facing a multitude of challenges in online environment nowadays. Apart from all other challenges that we endure on a daily basis, additional would be one where journalists need to defend their profession. We in Mediacentar assume that it is very important to learn and promote qualitative journalism, because only this type of journalism is something that can be instrumentalized in combating disinformation. Therefore, digital tools we spoke about today have to be essential to the set of skills a journalist has to have. Journalist as a profession is evolving, time evolves itself thus it is very important for us journalists to obtain certain skills which will eventually help us to work the job qualitatively,” said Elvira Jukić Mujkić, editor of website, which is an online site of Mediacentar Sarajevo. 

“All media outlets compete for attention. Some of them do it by making good stories while on the other end of the spectrum there are ones embracing manipulative tactics having nothing to do with journalism, trying to attract audience which is getting bombed by an unprecedented amount of information. There is also whole “ecosystem” where fake media are popping out on a daily basis. These anonymous copies resemble on credible online media but only by look, but in essence they are digital billboards for click-to-money conversion. Their business model is based on ad promotion usually through conveying other media contents seasoned with clickbait headlines, making up non existent “exclusive news” out of thin air and their promotion on social media. On the other hand, some anonymous media come about with the aim to serve as a expositure of political parties or other interest groups. Information coming from this kind of sources are neither true nor reliable and that is why it is so crucial to distinguish real media outlet which stand for their work and invest in resources for their reports from ones which only mimic real media”, said Emir Zulejhić, adding that not all disinformation could be attributed to anonymity of new technologies. He highlights that legitimate media are also subject to political influence, manipulations and sensationalism and even among them it could be found more and less reliable information sources, which we have to know to recognize and distinguish. 

Do not trust at first (Double-check everything – alternatively) 

Emir Zulejhić appeals that free media outlets which approach informing in a dedicated, responsible and professional way are utter necessity for building and functioning of free and just society. You should not be indifferent on being informed from source or website which made up information aiming to alter your opinion, channel your vote to one political option in elections, sell you a merch or simply to earn money thanks to your click, with the emphasis on the fundamental thing while choosing a source of information: distinguishment between real media outlets from their copies. Emir highlights that there is a general rule: if media outlet does not disclose ownership information and identity of personnel responsible for editing and writing, such media outlet simply could not be trusted. 

“Even though anonymity is a first wake up alarm, it is not the only criteria for credibility-of-media evaluation. To get a whole picture on this, it is needed to take various elements of media content production into consideration, including editing and ownership over media platforms,” said Zulejhić. 

(Semberija info)