Fake news and disinformation are real dangers: journalists

TVP World interviewed Vojtěch Kristen, staff writer at the Czech Info.cz website, and Ivan Hrstić, producer and presenter for the Croatian N1 television, who attended the “Trimarium, the Great Project Congress” currently in progress in Warsaw, and asked them about the problem of the prevalence of disinformation in the contemporary media landscape.

Mr Hrstić believes that disinformation is especially dangerous in light of the ongoing war in Ukraine. He believes that it is much easier to tackle news coming directly from Kremlin officials, but when it comes from within one’s own country it becomes a real problem, especially when fake news is repeated by politicians, such as MPs, or even heads of state.

According to Mr Hrstić, the Croatian government is fortunately on the right side of history, but he also mused about the role of journalists in the current situation and the choices they have to make.

He said that it is not an easy task to remain objective and it is even harder to remain impartial in situations such as the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. He believes that attitudes such as giving the same amount of screentime to the Russian aggressors and their Ukrainian victims’ are like offering equal time to Hitler and to his victims.

Mr Kristen in turn was asked how is fake news affecting the situation in Czechia. He believes that fake news is a threat to democracy that fuels division between people. For example, a few weeks ago, several thousand people gathered for a pro-Russian demonstration in Prague in spite of heavy rain. This, for him, is an example of how fake news can influence people to make bad decisions.

Other matters discussed with Mr Kristen and Hrstić: what is Russia’s ultimate goal when it comes to the fake news campaign and is Russia achieving it; are societies in some countries more prone to believing in fake news than in others; why is fake news so attractive and is poor historical education contributing to it; how does fake news make a journalist’s work hard and can journalists deal with fake news.