» UNESCO Brussels celebrates 2017 World Press Freedom Day at Difference Day conference “The Truth about Fake New...
04.05.2017 - UNESCO Office in Brussels

UNESCO Brussels celebrates 2017 World Press Freedom Day at Difference Day conference “The Truth about Fake News”

Brussels, 3 may 2017. More than 1,200 participants celebrated World Press Freedom Day in Brussels at Bozar on 3 May 2017 during the Difference Day Conference organized this year on the theme “The truth about fake news”.

Echoing the 2017 theme chosen by UNESCO “Critical Minds for Critical Times”, Difference Day is the Brussels Flagship event for World Press Freedom Day, organized by the VUB and its partners under the patronage of UNESCO and the European Parliament.

Together with the Directorate General CONNECT of the European Commission, UNESCO Brussels Office organized a joint panel session about “Journalism in a post-truth climate. Is quality journalism an answer?” Moderated by Jane Whyatt from ECPMF, the discussion gathered Melissa Bell, correspondent for CNN in Paris, Edwy Plenel, publisher of Mediapart, Alain Lallemand, investigative journalist at Le Soir and Peter Cunliffe-Jones, chair of the board of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).

All underlined the current need to reinvigorate the role of quality journalism, fact-checking and investigative journalism. “The right to vote is nothing without the right to know. The battle is not only about truth, it is about democracy” highlighted Edwy Plenel while Melissa Bell reminded the audience that "journalists need to concentrate on facts. Credibility takes a lifetime to win, seconds to loose".

The full debate can be watched online  

UNESCO also took part in a panel discussion about Media and Information Literacy. Bayan Tal, from the UNESCO-EU Project “Support to Media in Jordan” presented her experience developing critical thinking and presenting the central role of Media and Information literacy to challenge fake news and disinformation in the minds of individuals.

The full debate of this session can be watched here

Paolo Fontani, Director of the UNESCO Brussels Office, took the floor during the closing ceremony of Difference Day reiterating the call of UNESCO’s Director General on everyone to sharpen their minds to defend the freedoms that are essential for justice and peace. Paying tribute to all the journalists that received the UNESCO Guillermo Cano Prize for the last 20 years, Mr Fontani reminded that “more than ever, what we need is original, critical and well-researched journalism, guided by high professional and ethical standards”.

On 2 may 2017, UNESCO Assistant Director General Frank La Rue took part virtually in another event organized in Brussels on the eve of World Press Freedom Day. In a video address he rejected the term Fake News explaining that “News cannot be fake since it is not an attempt to be news. You have to distinguish information from disinformation”. This conference was organized by the Future Media Lab with the support of the Director General JUST of the European Commission and under the theme “Driving innovation for media: ensuring media pluralism and promoting trusted journalism in democracy”.

UNESCO Liaison Office in Brussels thanks all the participants for their contribution and feedback and extend a special thanks to the Difference Day organisers for a thoughtful and constructive marking of World Press Freedom Day.

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