Alfonso Méndiz: “More than a threat, fake news is an opportunity for good journalism”

30/05/19
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The dean of the Faculty of Communication Sciences participates in a conference on fake news, noting that the first ethical rule of journalism is to “do your job well”

Alfonso Méndiz: “More than a threat, fake news is an opportunity for good journalism”

The dean of communication, Alfonso Méndiz, participated in the conference “La nova ètica de la comunicació en temps de fake news” (New communication ethics in the age of fake news), held by the Catalan Press Council (CIC). His talk was part of the “L’ensenyament del periodisme com a formula autoreguladora” (Journalism education as a means of self-regulation) section, which also featured remarks by María José Recoder, dean of the Faculty of Communication Studies at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), and Marçal Sintes, director of the Journalism Department at Blanquerna.

For Méndiz, “Fake news, which is currently being presented as a threat, is actually a golden opportunity for journalism to re-establish its authority as a safe, reliable and transparent source in a world contaminated by lies and lack of rigour.”

In his talk, the dean also recalled that the concept “is not new: fake news, specious headlines and tabloid journalism have always existed, even in Roman times. What is new is the phenomenon”, which is exacerbated by the interconnection of social networks, which multiply and accelerate the disinformation process.

He also highlighted the current terminological confusion. “We are using the term fake news for everything, without really knowing what it means, even to discredit other newspapers and news channels that do not share our point of view.” In reality, Méndiz continued, we should distinguish – as Claire Wardle, author of the “Information Disorder” report, does — between “misinformation” (the unintentional sharing of false information, due to a failure to fact-check it), “disinformation” (deliberately false information, intended to cause harm to a person or idea), and “mal-information” (real information taken out of context with a striking or doctored presentation intended to distort reality). “In the terrorist attack on the Ramblas, there was a lot of misinformation; in the recent elections, there was a lot of disinformation.”