Mainstream media holds important role in anti-fake news fight hinh anh 1

Hanoi, (VNA) – Amid mushrooming untrue and hoax information about the COVID-19 pandemic that cause apprehension and worry among the public, the role of official media agencies – the mainstream media – in orientating public opinions is all the more important.

With more than 60 million internet users, Vietnam is facing various challenges of this modern media form, one of which is the viral spread of fake news. Dr. Tran Ba Dung, head of the professional skills section under the Vietnam Journalists’ Association (VJA), talked to VietnamPlus about efforts of official media agencies in providing fast and accurate coverage of the pandemic’s development as well as refuting false information.

Balanced coverage

Dr Dung affirmed that in the fight against COVID-19, the contingent of journalists has played an important role as one of the forces on the frontline. Reporters and editors overcame many difficulties and challenges amid the spreading epidemic, closely followed the situation to provide continuous, timely and accurate coverage of the epidemic situation both in the country and all over the world.

Mainstream media holds important role in anti-fake news fight hinh anh 2Dr. Tran Ba Dung, head of the professional skills section under the Vietnam Journalists’ Association

Immediately after the first reports on the SARS-CoV-2 and the first cases in Wuhan (China) appeared, Vietnamese media agencies actively provided objective and true information to the public and made recommendations to competent agencies on how to respond when the epidemic arrived in Vietnam.  

After the start of the epidemic in the country, media agencies have worked closely with steering committees for COVID-19 prevention and control at all levels, the Health Ministry and relevant agencies to provide constant update on the pandemic situation, popularize disease prevention measures and counter false information about the pandemic.

According to the VJA official, it is noteworthy that media agencies have ensured the balanced provision of information.

Elaborating on the balanced coverage of the epidemic, Dung said media agencies have timely and accurately reported on the Government’s instructions and measures to contain the spread of the disease, the Health Ministry’s statistics on the disease, and the epidemic’s impacts on every aspect of society, from economics, health care, education, culture and tourism.

Besides, journalists have taken the initiative in writing about the work of forces involved in the fight, from medical workers, to the police, army and volunteers.

Also through their coverage, the media have spread the message on human compassion and mutual support in the community in the time of difficulty, thus consolidating community linkages in order to overcome the pandemic.

Not stopping there, the media have reported on the impacts of the pandemic on each aspect of life and proposed solutions to mitigate the harms and ease the difficulties.

Reporters have been seen at epidemic hotspots such as Son Loi commune (Vinh Phuc province), Truc Bach street and Bach Mai Hospital (Hanoi) regardless of day or night.

 “I think the Vietnam News Agency, Vietnam Television, Tuoi Tre (Youth) e-newspaper and Thanh Nien (Young People) e-newspaper are examples of media agencies which have done well in this regard,” Dung said.

Confronting fake news

Amid the spread of fake news, the role of mainstream media agencies in directing public opinions must be further promoted, according to Dung.

He said first of all, media agencies should further intensify the criticism and correction of false information on the epidemic. In order to do this, reporters must gain thorough understanding of the issue they report on, get information from reliable sources, and carefully check information before publishing a story.

Dung highlighted a rap news product entitled “Say No to Fake News” (a joint work of the Vietnam News Agency and the Da LAB band), describing it as an example of the painstaking work of the VNA, a leading news agency in Vietnam, in fighting fake news.

Media agencies should also continue publishing timely and transparent information on the pandemic developments, with attention given to the results of treatment to ease worry in society, as well as to measures to prevent the epidemic from spreading in the community. The media should take care in reporting to avoid causing pessimistic feelings or fear, or discrimination against suspect and confirmed patients.

Stressing that journalism is a dangerous profession, Dung urged the contingent of journalists to equip themselves with knowledge and protective gears when reporting from epidemic hotspots.

Mainstream media holds important role in anti-fake news fight hinh anh 3Photo: VietnamPlus

Reporters should also uphold professional ethics and ensure balanced coverage while avoiding sensationalisation of stories, Dung said./.