World Journalists Conference 2022: fact-checking, self-regulation in media, and the impact of journalists on society

Journalists Association of Korea held the World Journalists Conference 2022 on April 25-26, 2022, marking the 10th anniversary of the conference. Over 70 journalists from 45 countries – ranging from Korea, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Iran, Ireland to the Philippines, Mexico, Colombo, Russia, China and more – participated over the two-day conference and discussed various issues, took part in debates and Q&A sessions. The main topics of the virtually-held conference this year were ‘the current status of fact-checking and media self-regulatory organizations’ on day one, and the ‘society changed by journalists’ on day two.

On April 25 (day one), journalists from around the world were welcomed with a special address by the South Korean Prime Minister Mr. Kim Boo-kyum. Further, Journalists Association of Korea (JAK) president Mr. Kim Dong Hoon and Seoul Tourism Organization president and CEO Mr. Ki Yon Kil also addressed the journalists.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum greeted the journalists who gathered from around the world to present ideas “on the issues people are facing every year”. He spoke about how, with the cooperation of Korean citizens, Korea has “passed the COVID-19 crisis with the highest vaccination rate and the lowest fatality rate in the world”.

He maintained that despite that, COVID-19 has had a significantly negative impact on everyone. “This disaster aggravated conflicts and inequality between nations and classes,” he said. “In addition, people’s distrust of journalism keeps growing due to fake news. Preposterous claims or provocative false descriptions about vaccines were excitedly reported to increase online hits, and induced confusion to make the public uneasy. This situation should never happen again.”

Prime Minister of Republic of Korea Mr. Kim Boo-kyum addresses the journalists gathered virtually for the World Journalists Conference 2022.

The Korean Prime Minster stressed on the role journalism should play for the future of our communities. “Now the world faces the ‘great transformation of civilization’. I think, first of all, journalism needs to stand up and light the way to overcome all challenges that may come under the transformation.”

Mr. Kim Boo-kyum quoted the American journalist Thomas Friedman, saying, “The biggest challenge we may face will come from fake news through social media, and healthy communities where people connect, protect and respect each other will lead to changes under the transformation.” He concluded the address, saying, “With that power, let’s make a new history for journalism and humankind.”

Korean participants posing with the screen full of virtual participants from around the world. (Photo: JAK)

JAK president Kim Dong Hoon traced the rich history of the organization, which was established in 1964 and celebrated its 58th anniversary this year. With JAK being Korea’s largest association of journalists with about 11000 members from 199 media companies, one of the association’s five principles is to “help one another and reinforce ties with other journalists globally”.

“Since the first conference [in 2013] until 2019, journalists worldwide have been invited for seven years to witness the reality within the Korean peninsula as the world’s only divided nation for them to personally experience and realize the importance of peace,” said Mr. Kim Dong Hoon.

“Apart from that, we have discussed the future of journalism at the conference and expanded talks of friendly mutual relations,” he continued. “I proudly share that it is becoming one of the major journalism events worldwide.”

The JAK president ended with a positive affirmation, saying, “We all share commonalities even if our country, gender, skin color and ideologies are different. It is a fact that all journalists are working hard for freedom and peace and disseminate the truth with a warm heart and cold reasoning.”

Journalists Association of Korea president Mr. Kim Dong Hoon welcomes and addresses the journalists at the beginning of the conference.

During the day-one session, moderated by The Korea Times digital content editor and JAK’s head of international relations Min-ho Jung, 30 journalists spoke about the status of fact-checking and self-regulation of media organizations in their countries, painting a picture of the global situation of the aforementioned issue. The speakers focused on points including (but not limited to) the lack of infrastructure and organizations for fact-checking especially when it pertains to social media, political influence on media companies affecting the news publishing; processes of data collection and verification as journalists, and the growing distrust of conventional news by the public and the easy trap of fake news on social media.

The list of speakers included: EunRyung Chong, Elira Canga, Habib Toumi, Md Tawfique Ali, Qimin Wu, Margaret Ojalvo, Flemming Ytzen, Tobias Kaiser, Neelima Mathur, Ranjit Kumar, Alireza Bahrami, Pooneh Nedai, Frank McNally, Antonio Moscatello, Kanat Auyesbay, Kuban Taabaldiev, Chuluunbaatar Dolgor, Bishnu Gautam, Keshab Prasad Poudel, Nasir Aijaz, Gorethy Kenneth, Rosalin Garganera, Leonidio Ferreira, Timur Shafir, Khadar Awl Isamail, J. Alex Tarquinio, Do Hoa Mi Nguyen, Sabina Inderjit, Malik Sullemana and Hyung Joon Ahn.

The wall of journalists (photo: JAK)

On the second day, a special session on ‘Blockchain-based News Ecosystem’ was conducted by Sonny Kwon, founder and CEO of ‘Publish Inc.’, a software development company focusing on building a blockchain-based news platform.

After the special session by Mr. Kwon, 24 speakers from countries such as Italy, USA, Pakistan, Nepal, India, Indonesia, France, Malaysia, Egypt and more discussed and reflected over the idea of a society changed by journalists. The journalists brought up thought-provoking points such as whether society can, in fact, be changed by journalists; the influence journalists have in shaping the society and how they understand (or not) the responsibility that accompanies that power.

Angel Galindo (Colombia) gives his speech at the World Journalists Conference 2022. (photo: JAK)

The speakers included: professor Min-Kyu Lee, Ahmed Jamil Ibrahim, Rethea Pann, Sophal Chhay, Angel Galindo, Ashraf Eldaly, Bilal Bassal, Hassan Humeida, Gunjeet Sra, Neha Banka, Ahmed Kurnia Soeriawidjaja, Bayan Ramazanova, Nurzhan Kasmalieva, Norila Mohd. Daud, Arun Ranjit, Bishnu Nisthuri, Gokarna Awasthi, Benjamin Fernandez, Sin Chin Lim, Leo Nirosha Darshan Sathasivam, Dilmurod Djumabaev, Lan Phong (Lan Cu Thi), Rahul Aijaz and Hwan-bong Jung.

The two-day conference ended with a hope and a promise to meet next year in Seoul, Korea and exchange more ideas concerning journalism and society and foster the growth of the profession.

You can watch the Day One of World Journalists Conference 2022 here:

You can watch Day Two of the conference here:

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