Media Forum 2023: Disinformation doesn’t disappear and only changes dissemination channels

Disinformation doesn’t disappear and only changes the dissemination channels despite the remedies thought to have been identified. This reality was witnessed in 2022 and also this year, with a number of urgent signals for improving the media work environment being transmitted. This way, the efficient combating of disinformation that undermines democracy and confidence in the independent media remains a challenge. Even if enough steps were taken, the process is ongoing. The decisions to suspend the licenses of a number of TV channels taken by the Commission for Exceptional Situations required greater transparency and better substantiation. Such statements were made in the eighth Media Forum staged by the Press Council, IPN reports.

Press Council head Viorica Zaharia said the Forum became a platform on which the current situation of the press is being discussed and through which professional and development opportunities for journalists are being offered.  “We have passed one more year with an ongoing war at the border, with elections, with price rises that influenced the media too. During the year, we could really convince ourselves that disinformation doesn’t disappear and only transforms itself and changes the dissemination channels despite the remedies we considered we have found,” stated Viorica Zaharia. According to her, the media sector puts hopes primarily in the creation of the national mass media support system that is to cover the next two years and is to be worked out by the Ministry of Culture, the responsible parliamentary commission and professional media organizations.

Viorica Zaharia noted that the state-run company “Moldova’s Post Office” from January 1 raises the charges for distributing the print media over 3.5 times and this is a serious blow. “This is actually a sentence for the few newspapers that remained in the Republic of Moldova. The rise will implicitly lead to higher subscription and selling prices. We can presume that the people will simply not afford to subscribe or to purchase newspapers. So, we expect an urgent decision to be taken so as to alleviate this blow or the print media will die,” said the head of the Press Council.

Attending the event, President Maia Sandu welcomed the effort made by the media organizations that launched the first media education project and that for seven years has helped to teach the optional discipline “Education for the Media” in national schools. “Education for the media should become a nationwide subject. The media literacy courses should reach the grass roots – each village, town, preschool, school, library, house of culture – so that each citizen, regardless of age, is able to differentiate between true and false information and does not allow to be manipulated,” stated President Sandu.

EU Ambassador to Moldova Jānis Mažeiks said that the Media Forum is a platform for dialogue, for the exchange of ideas and a confirmation of the vital role played by journalism in society. “The journalists are guardians of democracy, of the truth and the voice of the people. You, dear journalists, are the bridge between the citizens and the truth. The work you do is vital for the health of our democracy. Your dedication to discover facts, to call to account those who are in power even when you support them and to promote informed public narrative are extremely important,” noted the diplomat.

Over 160 journalists, editors, media managers, representatives of media organizations and associations, lecturers and students of faculties of journalism are taking part in the Media Forum 2023, which is taking place in Chisinau on December 4-5. Representatives of public institutions and regulatory authorities, national and foreign experts were also invited to the event. In the Forum, the Press Council will hand over the National Journalistic Ethics and Deontology Award 2023. At the end of the event, there will be adopted a resolution that will be transmitted to the national authorities and international organizations that monitor the democratic development of the Republic of Moldova.

The Media Forum 2023 was held with support from the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom of Germany, Soros Foundation Moldova and DW Akademie of Germany.

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