Fake news and information literacy were a few of the hot topics covered at Cambodia’s first media conference, held Thursday in Phnom Penh.
Organized by UNESCO, with backing from the government and several independent media organizations, the session brought together about 50 bloggers, journalists and communication professionals with the goal of improving media development and strengthening freedom of speech.
“Millions of social media messages are circulating on a daily basis without being fact-checked and verified, which risks further polarization of our society through disinformation, misinformation and hate speech,” said Sardar Umar Alam, a UNESCO representative.
Misinformation undermined news publishers’ credibility, said conference organizers, who were working on the belief that a more knowledgeable public would lead to improved media trust.
The conference coincided with the launch of Media & Information Literacy Network Cambodia, a coalition of media groups with the goal of improving information literacy. More than 73% of Cambodia’s 17 million people use social media daily.
“Media and information literacy is critical to equip people with the necessary skills to critically engage with information and multimedia content, and to restore the trust of the people in traditional news media,” said Susanna Elmberger, who works at the Swedish Embassy, and helped organize the conference.