‘It is better to break news late than run fake news’

By Our Correspondent
March 30, 2023

Better late than fake, remarked a journalist from Peshawar named Farzana Ali during a webinar on Wednesday while she was speaking about the race to break news. Titled ‘Redefining Pakistani Journalism: The Promise and Perils of Constructive Reporting’, the webinar was organised by the Uks Research Centre and the Deutsche Welle Akademie.


Farzana said we need to spread true information. “We need to counter-check and monitor information. We need to stop running after breaking news,” she said, stressing that news can be broken late but it should never be fake.

Journalist Mehmal Sarfraz said journalism in Pakistan is extremely difficult because of the current political polarisation. “One needs to have a thick skin or take a break from social media because you’re trolled a lot.”

She said that while there is misinformation, there are so many courses for fact-checking. She pointed out that fact-checking is not a difficult thing for a journalist: one just needs to check and verify before airing any news.

She also said that several times we end up quoting people from fake Twitter accounts. “It’s very important to acknowledge if you’ve published wrong information, and remove it.”

Mehmal said that there is a difference between fake news and misquoting someone. She explained that fake news is intentionally propagating fake information for personal or political gain. “Journalists have to be factually correct.”

Journalist Zarrar Khuhro said that a reporter has always been a reporter and a fact-checker, so it is not something new. He said tools for fact-checking are also not something new. As a journalist, we should do explainers on these tools, he added.

He pointed out that earlier, there was no digital literacy in a newsroom when Twitter and other social media services were new, but if there is a lack of digital literacy in the newsroom now, it should be shunned.

Uks Director Tasneem Ahmer asked how much airtime do we give to news other than politics, such as climate change and gender issues, which are of equal importance.

Rehan Ahmed, director news of a private news channel, clarified that the electronic media airs news about everything, but of course, politics gets more airtime.

Khuhro said that there will not be any content on mainstream TV channels other than politics. He explained that they did shows on climate change, gender issues and floods, but they could not get even 10 per cent of the viewership.

“If you’re lucky enough to have influence over editorial policy of your media house, you should do something about this,” he said. However, he added, one cannot ignore the fact that half of the country is interested in politics, and after all, media is also a business.