The Internet was supposed to make the world more transparent and more of us more accountable. Somewhere around when The Cluetrain Manifesto was written there was a feeling, now seeming naïve, that the Internet would help us get closer to the truth.
What we have discovered of late, however, that the opposite has happened and we have somehow been transported into a post-truth world where we are constantly being taken in by hoaxes and fake news.
In this sad state of affairs, the conventional media, whether offline or online, was supposed to be something we can rely on to sift the truth from the falsehoods. But even they are finding this task challenging.
“The media’s job of verifying information is getting more difficult,” admits Liputan6.com Editor in Chief Mohamad Teguh in an interview with Maverick for its People Behind the News series.
The news used to be a one-way dissemination, with news organizations being responsible for ensuring the quality and the distribution of the information provided, he said.
These days, however, anyone can be a “news’ writer and, thanks to the social media, are able to disseminate their information far and wide. Coupled with this is the fact that some news organizations have let their guard down, reporting on what is being said on social media without first verifying the information they are spreading.
Aware of this crisis of confidence on the institutions that provide the news, Liputan6.com has stepped up its game to be a trusted source of information and news.
In August 2017 it applied to become part of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) and after fulfilling all its stringent requirements, was certified as a member in July 2, 2018. By doing this Liputan6.com became the second Indonesian media to secure such accreditation. The first was Tirto.id.
Teguh explained that Liputan6.com was initially approached by Facebook to help battle hoaxes being circulated on its platform. One of the criteria for Liputan6.com to be able to team up with Facebook was to get the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) verification.
Liputan6.com has had to go to great lengths to receive the accreditation. It had to, among other things, make public its incorporation documents, disclose the sources of its funding and ensure that its editorial policy was non-partisan.
Liputan6.com even dedicate an inbox to receive all kinds of information suspected as hoax and questions from public. This inbox has been full ever since. A team consists of writers, journalists and researchers has been busy verifying all information received.
Teguh stated, “I believe it is our obligation to fight hoax, not only the government bodies’, not only media or PR, but it’s ours. From what I see, the public has become more proactive and interactive in terms of verifying information. It can be seen from our CekFakta inbox that receives all kind of questions and alerts from our readers.”
Even with all this in place, battling hoax is a continuous and uphill task. “The problem is that people sometimes belief in what they want to belief, even when the facts clearly disprove its existence. The incident involving Ratna Sarumpaet, is a case in point, he said, because in spite of the police evidence and her admission to lying there are still people who believe that she was beaten up.
In spite of all this, however, Teguh is optimistic about Liputan6.com’s ability to help its readers come closer to the truth. “People are getting smarter and will find their own ways to differentiate which information are worth to be consumed.”
One of these ways would be relying on trusted sources like Liputan6.com who have not only paid lip service to fact-checking but also willing to walk the talk to ensure that their facts are really facts.
To watch our interview with Mohamad Teguh, please visit this link.