Young people should be taught media literacy to help them distinguish real from fake news in the fight against disinformation, the president of Spain’s Efe news agency, Gabriela Cañas, said Monday.
“Today it is harder to distinguish between truth and lies,” the head of the public news agency said during an online address to the World Media Summit taking place in Beijing.
“It’s shocking to see how the truth is discredited today, how a considerable part of the general public dismisses the truth and embraces fake news in an uncritical way.
“We are also suffering from an overload of information, an infodemic, whose consequences can be just as dire as hoaxes.”
Cañas said greater education around the consumption of news would provide young people with the necessary tools to fact check information and stay informed.
“We cannot allow algorithms to decide for us. Nor should large technological companies economically exploit the content that we create with hard work and rigor,” Cañas said. “Because all of this threatens the very existence of the media fighting for the truth.”
Cañas lauded the work of public news agencies and highlighted the efforts taken by Efe in maintaining the “highest quality, in searching for the truth and the verification of news” in the face of the “dangerous enemy” of disinformation.
“We are the leading Spanish language news outlet. Our protocols are as rigorous as the news we publish. We are duty-bound to raise the torch of credibility high and spread it throughout the world.”
Cañas said alliances and innovation were key to the survival of traditional media outlets in a changing world, and noted as an example deals made between Efe and other news agencies with social media giants like TikTok and Twitter.
In her speech, the president of Efe extended her congratulations to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, host of the summit, on its 90th anniversary.
Cañas, the first Efe representative to take part in the summit, concluded her address by paying homage to the 1,800 journalists who have died since the beginning of the pandemic.
The World Media Summit was formed in 2009 by the world’s leading news agencies. Its previous plenaries have taken place in Beijing (2009), Moscow (2012) and Doha (2016).
This year much of the focus was placed on growth strategies amid the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. It took place virtually and was organized by the Associated Press, Reuters, Xinhua, TASS, Agence France Presse and Al Jazeera, among others. EFE