"When we talk about fact-checking, in the context of disinformation trends, it is important to check who is the sender of the information, because we have the phenomenon of disinformation in general, but we also have some cases of the propagation of inappropriate facts or partially truthful information. In all cases, we must start by verifying who sent these messages", said Alina Radu, director of Ziarul de Gardă, investigative journalist, during sessions 7, 8, and 9 of the training program on critical thinking, media literacy, analysis, resisting disinformation and reflecting public interest information in an unbiased way, organized on Wednesday and Thursday, May 17 and 18.
Alina Radu explained during the sessions what fact-checking is and how it works; but also the techniques to combat disinformation, including presenting the tools available in this regard. "Everything we receive in the form of information is like a capsule. Be it political exhortations, information about food products, medicines, services, etc. Everything is a capsule, and someone wants to make us believe that this capsule is good for us, but we still have to check what is inside this capsule and if it can do us good", Alina Radu explained to the participants the essence of the process to verify the facts.
According to Alina Radu, when you want to know what's up with a television, a newspaper, a magazine, a portal, or a web page, you have to check who it belongs to, including with the help of the web page https://nic.md/ro/whois/. With the help of other web pages, you can find out how truthful a photo or news headline is. About a newspaper, you realize how powerful it is if it has a space dedicated to basic information: who makes the newspaper, the printing house where it is printed, how many copies it appears in, who are the reporters, directors, contacts, etc. "If you have some names of reporters, editors-in-chief, you can realize what culture and identity this newspaper has and you can understand more easily what are the risks and problems that can come from this newspaper. Unfortunately, these internet newspapers are not obliged to have such an informative space and this complicates the verification and monitoring work", declared Alina Radu.
The investigative journalist claims that sometimes, some people, who are not malicious, share some information knowing what it is about and believe in this information. "All kinds of distortions and omissions of information happen on web pages. There are web pages where at first glance it looks like everything is beautiful, but some important information is missing from the context. A false impression is created about a person, that they would be an ideal one, but by omitting some important information, in fact not everything is said about that person. It is the problem of the mass media that they selectively present a personality or a public person", said the journalist.
Speaking about the techniques to combat disinformation and the tools available, Alina Radu mentioned primarily journalists and investigative groups, including organizations that analyze fakes. It is also about state institutions, explanatory editorials by specialists, etc.
“The role of critical thinking and the value of media literacy are undeniable to me. We are what we consume. The given session not only reminds us about the danger of disinformation but offers viable techniques, methods, and tools to combat the phenomenon. It is important that we talked about verifying the facts, through the lens of verifying the emitters of false information, false sources, and types of false information, both in the context of the Republic of Moldova and on the world map. Also, the practical part of the sessions has a special impact, the case studies anchoring the theories and conclusions of the specialists in reality", said Mariana Ionel, a participant in the program.
"Disinformation generates negative aspects in society. The sessions held by Alina Radu were welcome for me because examples and concrete case studies were presented, which I had the opportunity to analyze from other aspects, focusing on details, which sometimes we do not notice naturally. I think this helps me to provide correct information and find balanced solutions, regarding various events exposed in the public space", said Lilia Ghenea, also a participant in the program.
"More of us are present in the online environment and less read newspapers, especially young people. Therefore, the information presented in these sessions was very useful for me, who is a PR specialist, I am frequently present in the online environment, and I notice all the news that appears, which is why I need to differentiate between fake news and a which is true", said Sabina Rotaru, also a participant of the program.
In the following sessions, the experience and good practices at the international level in combating disinformation will be discussed. The participants will also be trained on the peculiarities of disinformation in the online environment; the role of new technologies in disinformation campaigns; but also the role of journalists in combating disinformation, etc.
The project "Supporting Critical Thinking and Resisting Disinformation in the Republic of Moldova", implemented by IDIS "Viitorul" from January 2023 to October 2024, is financially supported by the Embassy of Finland in Bucharest.
IDIS "Viitorul" is an independent think tank established in 1993 that combines social, political and economic research with strong advocacy components. The institution conducts applied monitoring research on several areas: economics, social policy, EU policies, regional development, but also security and foreign policy risks.
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