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Calls for comprehensive media literacy education

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Head teachers received media literacy training in Battambang on December 13, 2021. MoEYS Cambodia

Media professionals say they want to see widespread media literacy efforts for the public, to prevent the spread of news and videos that contain fake news and false information, and to help the average person distinguish objective news content from information that is widespread are shaped by a political or ideological agenda.

The Information Department’s Fake News Monitoring Commission reported that in 2021 a total of 1,938 sources were identified spreading false information, including video content and comments offending the nation’s leaders, a slight increase compared to 2020.

Pen Bona, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, said one of the keys to solving the problems arising from fake news and false information is teaching media literacy to young people and the general public so they can understand the basics of how to do it know how to review information using some of the methods journalists use.

An intern at the Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association (CamboJA) named Chea Sokny, who attended the organization’s fact-checking training course, said the course was an excellent resource for online and print journalists and that it emphasized the importance of verifying the accuracy of all information, before they are shared or published.

“After completing this training, journalists taking the course will be better able to produce news content with accurate information that does not cause confusion or falsehood discussions about current events in the public, which is beneficial for the development of the local media in Cambodia really matters. ” She said.

Instructor Kann Vicheika told The Post that in the context of the “information age” we live in, it has become increasingly important to provide all young people with a functional understanding of how journalism should work.

He said that today’s young people – especially those in the provinces – do not know how to properly analyze the information they consume on social media such as Facebook to distinguish truth from falsehood or rumors from verified facts, and therefore read and then often share fake news and even tend to believe fake news about real information.

“We have seen that some of this false information has resulted in people being charged with defamation or fraud – some face prison terms – for providing false information that violates Cambodian law or someone else’s reputation Have done harm or business, “she said.

Vicheika said if young people are not trained to think critically and question what they encounter on social media, they will face all sorts of problems throughout their lives. That is why it is so important to impart media skills to everyone, especially young people.

Nop Vy, Executive Director of CamboJA, said that all too often criticism of those in power today is reduced to a “he-said-she-said” proposal, where any strong criticism, regardless of the evidence presented, is met and inevitably follows personal attacks on the journalists, who sometimes even face legal consequences for their reporting.

Vy said the media need to remain independent and objective in order to maintain public trust, maintain transparency and promote true information so that they can arbitrate in disputes over the facts by providing the public with evidence that shows which claims are true and these are just partisan attacks.

“We need to be careful when determining what information is true or false, and whether it is legitimate criticism or an agenda. At the same time, it is essential that those in power are open to criticism, if it is legitimate, so that they can respond effectively to social problems, ”said Vy.

According to Vy, CamboJA is working with DW Akademie to host a fact check training course for their Cambodian staff and other members to improve the skills and abilities of the kingdom’s journalists and students aspiring to the profession.

“Overall, if we train them to review and characterize information, we hope that in the future they will be able to reliably review what is true and what is false,” he said.

Information Department spokesman Meas Sophoan denied Vy’s claims that legitimate criticism is being pursued by the courts in Cambodia.

Sophoan said freedom of the press is protected by the Cambodian Constitution and Articles II and III of the Press Act state that journalists have the right to maintain the confidentiality of their sources.

He noted that Cambodian law also provides that in order to maintain press independence, censorship should be prohibited prior to publication, a principle known as “prior restraint” found only in countries with very liberal standards of freedom of expression .

“I disagree with his suggestion that whenever there is negative criticism of Cambodia’s leaders and government officials, [the criticisms] are always attacked as fake and the critics prosecuted for it, ”he said, adding that real professional journalists who write accurate news will never be brought to justice for this.

Seav Kuoy Yi

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