ISLAMABAD: A group of several journalism and mass communication departments of universities from across Pakistan, independent digital media platforms, journalists’ associations, media rights groups and civil society organisations and activists have launched the “Coalition Against Disinformation” (CAD) to defend public interest journalism against threats to its credibility from various sources.
The coalition was established at a national conference among academia, digital media and civil society groups seeking ways to combat disinformation, especially in the digital media and online domains where the incidence of disinformation is being felt the greatest. The dialogue was hosted by Pakistani media rights watchdog Freedom Network and the Digital Media Alliance of Pakistan (DigiMAP) in Islamabad, a press release issued here on Monday said.
The conference, “Academia and Media: Promoting Media Literacy on Countering Disinformation” was attended by heads of departments of various journalism schools, scholars, digital journalists, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Women Journalists’ Association, the Alliance for Diversity and Pluralism in Media, the Pakistan Journalists Safety Coalition, digital rights activists, media legal experts and senior journalists.
The coalition approved a foundation charter that aims to raise public awareness about safeguards against online disinformation and work with key stakeholders, such as academia, digital media and civil society organisations, to support factual information. It also plans to undertake media and information literacy (MIL) initiatives in collaboration between academia and digital media involving students, researchers and young scholars.
Addressing the conference, Freedom Network Executive Director Iqbal Khattak said the coalition is an attempt to facilitate collective and cooperative solutions to the problem of online disinformation. “The huge scale and complexity of disinformation in Pakistan means that no single individual, group or organisation can solve it,” he said, emphasising that countering disinformation demands a collaborative approach.
Media development expert Adnan Rehmat said academia is the missing link in the collaborative efforts to combat disinformation. “Unfortunately, the academia is not considered a part of the solution to curbing disinformation in the public imagination whereas involvement of academia is at the heart of creating a critical mass of influence to counter disinformation.”