“It can either be fake or news”, opined Rama Lakshmi, the Opinion Editor of The Print.
Her statement brought an unequivocal reaction from the audience and even I couldn’t agree more that FAKE NEWS, when pronounced together, is indeed an oxymoron.
Very often than not if the Fake News consists of casual opinions or sarcasm, entertainment-related media stories, then it poses no risk but when some high impact stories lead to panic, confusion and rumor, the real damage occurs.
Sensationalism sells well and Fake News is nothing but a clear example of sensationalism, stemming out from an underlying motive to create a good marketing strategy. Like a controversy before the release of a film. Existing since ages, we all must have fallen a prey to it at some point of time, sometimes even without realizing it.
Moreover, the digital boom in this era has provided an impetus to the burgeoning population of this hoax culture or as we call it these days – Fake News.
From word of mouth to Whatsapp forwards, this virus is more detrimental than corona and calls for urgent attention from all the believers. 2019 was the year of fake news with the circulation of misinformation around key events like Balakot, Pulwama, JNU, Kashmir, Kathua rape and CAA.
We were there to cover an event organized by Half Pencil.
The heart of Delhi witnessed an interesting live dialogue session as some of the stalwarts from the field of journalism gathered to discuss the havoc created by Fake News in the country. This was the first episode of the initiative – Conversations & More and the main objective was to find out whether India has developed a vaccine against it or not.
Along with Rama Lakshmi, there were other renowned names like Soutik Biswas, who is an India Correspondent of BBC; Siddharth Vardarajan, Founding Editor of The Wire and Image Management Guru, Dilip Cherian.
Carrot Films was entrusted with the responsibility of covering this dialogue session. Since most of our team members, be it Ishani Ma’am, Anirban Sir or Vidheya, started their career from the news industry, we are glad that we got a chance to film this event.
That apart, being media professionals, it is our job to showcase the truth and we have been trying to do that for many years now. Shooting documentaries and human interest stories in the remotest corners of the country, we have seen and captured the truth, and with riders, presented it.
From issues concerning gender to environment, we have had it all on our platter.
Though this dialogue session was a marked departure from Carrot’s usual work but the important part was that it connected with us intimately, because the media and the domain where we work, has also been impacted with this trend.
The discussion on fake news was hosted by the seasoned anchor, Smita Sharma.
Initially, each of the panelists gave their views on Fake News and also spoke about the threat it leads it which was like a deep insight to a grave matter we usually overlook. At times, it is harmful, like someone from the audience pointed out that a piece of fake news was doing the rounds on social media that Obama is gay and that Michelle and he are separating for the same reason. Hilarious! Isn’t it??
Unverified or false news which we daily find across social media platforms can sometimes be harmless if done in the form of a mimicry, sarcasm or jokes regarding a person or incident and primarily intended for entertainment purposes.
But in some instances, it can prove to be fatal when the news is spread with malicious intentions such as political gains, instigating or spreading violence or hatred between communities, etc. Though the harm is generally done by the interpreters of fake news as a fake news itself cannot be harmful unless there are people who believe in it and want to brainwash others to believe the same.
Initially what seemed to be just an overview, delved deeper as it went by and the panelists discussed about the ways to counter the problem of fake news and whether India has developed any vaccine to provide immunization.
The critical role played by media people, particularly the journalists was also debated as the guests asked how independent is the part played by them. It is their duty to support and help their viewers and readers identify fake news from a real one.
Questions were also taken from the audience and the panelists answered them one by one. Some heated arguments cropped up during this question answer session but I guess a dialogue session like this would have been incomplete without that.
The whole experience was quite enriching for Team Carrot.
That’s probably because we take our role as messengers of truth quite seriously. We are no more directly connected to news – but hey, we live in the same world. Fake news is a problem on which we too have heated discussions.
All that I can say is, thank you Half Pencil for bringing together so many thought-leaders in a single forum to discuss such an pertinent issue. This is something, we believe, that the nation really needs to know.