Newspaper Week: Trustworthy Reportage Vital in Age of Fake Information

Newspaper Week has begun. The world is in chaos and false information burgeons online. The mission of newspapers is to accurately report the facts: This point must be stressed anew.

Numerous fake videos have been posted to social media sites and spread around the world in connection with the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas.

A spurious video purporting to show Hamas fighters parachuting into Israeli territory was actually filmed at a sporting event in Egypt. Videos supposedly depicting abducted Israeli children being locked in cages have proliferated, too.

Untruthful information claiming that the United States, Russia and other countries are becoming involved in the fighting also has been circulating.

The European Union requires that social media operators act appropriately to combat the spread of false communications, claiming that social networking services are being used to spread misleading reportage. Such disinformation has the power to sow confusion in international affairs.

Newspaper companies dispatch reporters to confirm the authenticity of information surrounding domestic and overseas events. Reporters verify their findings with a large number of people before relaying their data. It is becoming increasingly important for newspapers to provide their readers with information that can be considered in a calm and rational manner.

Counterfactual postings are becoming increasingly sophisticated due to the use of artificial intelligence (AI). In an opinion survey conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun, more than 80% of respondents expressed concerns over the global spread of false information and only 50% of people checked who actually posted online news.

Domestic and foreign media and other organizations have formed a research organization and are currently developing a technology called Originator Profile (OP), which enables users to confirm the authenticity of online data. The OP mechanism provides users with third-party-verified information regarding the creator of articles and advertisements.

If originators can be clearly identified, it will be easier for consumers to judge the trustworthiness of online dispatches.

Online information that lacks consideration for human rights is difficult to delete following its propagation. This month, The Yomiuri Shimbun and major IT company LY Corp. issued a joint statement calling for stronger privacy considerations with regard to articles available on the internet.

The so-called attention economy — in which click-through rates are prioritized over considerations of accuracy — has been gaining traction, with many businesses seeking to generate advertising revenue by providing extreme content.

Efforts to ensure a healthy cyberspace are becoming increasingly important.

This fiscal year, The Yomiuri Shimbun won an award from the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association for a series of exclusive stories on overseas organ trafficking and related mediation. The stories were praised for exposing the reality of international organ trafficking. We intend to continue fulfilling our role as a newspaper that shines a light on injustices buried in the darkness.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 15, 2023)