March 21, 2023
By Hamza Saeed
A new coalition has been launched in Pakistan to combat disinformation and safeguard public interest journalism against threats to its credibility, Iqbal Khattak, Executive Director of Freedom Network Pakistan, told Voicepk.net on Tuesday.
The “Coalition Against Disinformation” (CAD) was established by several journalism and mass communication departments of universities across the country, as well as independent digital media platforms, journalists’ associations, media rights groups, and civil society organizations and activists, he said.
Speaking to Voicepk, Khattak expressed concerns about media being used as a pressure tool via fake news.
“Digital Journalism is the future which is why we established a coalition of stakeholders so that Public Interest Journalism in the country can be safeguarded,” he explained.
The CAD aims to raise public awareness about safeguards against online disinformation and work with key stakeholders, including academia, digital media, and civil society organizations, 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.
The coalition was established at a national conference hosted by Pakistani media rights watchdog Freedom Network and the Digital Media Alliance of Pakistan (DigiMAP) in Islamabad. The conference, titled “Academia and Media: Promoting Media Literacy on Countering Disinformation,” was attended by heads of departments of various journalism schools, scholars, digital journalists, the 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.
Khattak addressed the conference, emphasizing that countering disinformation demands a collaborative approach, as the scale and complexity of disinformation in Pakistan meant that no single individual, group, or organization could solve it. Media development expert Adnan Rehmat also spoke at the conference, highlighting the crucial role of academia in creating a critical mass of influence to counter disinformation.
The CAD’s foundation charter has been approved, and the coalition is set to begin its work raising awareness about online disinformation and promoting media literacy in collaboration with academia, digital media, and civil society organizations, Khattak said.