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‘Modern technology, misuse of free speech laws spreading fake news’

International Media Conference highlights need for balanced expression of thought

Speakers at International Media Conference (IMC) 2022 at Lahore Garrison University (LGU) Wednesday on ‘Balancing the Expression: Exploring Antagonism in World Media Ecosystem’ have stressed authenticating information before disseminating it to different quarters.

Speakers also threw light on fake news, propaganda and narrative building. The advent of new technologies in media has posed serious global challenges while fake news affects the social fabric.

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The IMC was held in collaboration with Lahore Garrison University, Punjab University Department of Communication and Media Research, Lahore College for Women University, NUML, Minute Mirror Media House and other institutions.

The concept of the conference was that freedom of expression is essential in a democratic society as a custodian of media functionality but on a certain level, the absolute freedom of expression may develop agnostic attitudes.

On the first day of the conference, senior defense analyst Lt. Gen. (r) Ghulam Mustafa was the special guest of the conference while LGU Vice Chancellor Major General (r) Shehzad Sikandar, Editor-in-Chief MinuteMirror Ali Sajjad, Dean Social Sciences Dr. Noman Majeed, Chairman LGU Department of Mass Communication Dr. Amir Mehmood Bajwa, Director Punjab University School of Communication Studies Dr. Noshina Saleem, and a large number of media persons, faculty members, researchers and students participated in the conference.

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Lt. Gen. (r) Ghulam Mustafa while addressing the conference said learning was a difficult task but unlearning was the most difficult job. In order to reform society in a positive manner, he said, we should continue to learn what is fruitful and unlearn what is harmful. He said that we should refrain from believing in any information and after verifying facts spread it. He said that Pakistan was not a poor country at all. The need is to fix problems. The role of media has become pivotal, he stated. He said that war of narratives was on the rise in the homeland. The superpowers also built narratives as they desired, he added. He also cited an editorial that appeared in the Washington Post after the USSR collapsed during the late 1980s that stated that after the end of communism the need was to address the threat of Islam.

VC Major General (r) Shehzad Sikandar in his inaugural address said that it is a significant step towards creating a learning experience and facilitating the effective transfer of knowledge while enriching the quality of research in the spheres of mass communication. He further said that in the digital age, the crisis of journalism has been exacerbated by the antagonistic actors infiltrating the journalistic system without adhering to its norms.

“They act from within compromising the values of freedom of speech,” he added. He said that Pakistan was passing through a very critical phase in terms of fake and deceptive news. He said that such an environment could lead to discord, unrest, instability and disintegration of the society. Given the circumstance, the role of media becomes multi-dimensional, he stressed. He said that it is the responsibility of the media to enhance harmony, fraternity and tolerance in society. The VC also stated that we should all gravitate toward a national and unified approach instead of giving space to disintegrating practices in the society. By discussing the prospects of balanced expressive practices in media, we are trying to catalyze the peace-building process in the country.

Dr. Numan Majeed gave a detailed presentation on the worldwide practice of fake news and its impacts on societies. He said that India was leading the nations that propagate such stuff that was baseless.

Dean School of Media & Communication Studies University of Management and Technology Dr. Anjum Zia, Dean of Humanities FC College Lahore Prof. Dr. Altafullah Khan also spoke. Senior journalists Mohsin Bhatti, Najam Wali, PJ Mir also expressed their views.

They highlighted the role of media in society. They said that sometimes media posed a severe threat to norms of the society. They also expressed their concerns that sometimes some media houses floated fake news on their outlets. They also shed light on the role of social media that has become vibrant. They said that there should be regulations to check fake news on it too. The trend of “breaking news” and disclosing the information first had also eroded quality and ethics in the media houses, they avowed. The second day of the IMC will be held at Punjab University today.


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