OpisMEDIJavanje: Fake news often lurks in headlines

„If you are not 100% positive that some piece of information is accurate, do not share it,“ journalist of the portal Raskrikavanje, Marija Vucic advised readers, while also warning that „when that information proves to be false or when someone denies it or proves that it was a lie, the denial of that information will not be able to reach the same number of people as the original lie did.“

In the latest episode of the media literacy campaign “OpisMEDIJavanje”, Vucic spoke about fake news, how it is created, who spreads this news and how to recognize it.

In addition to professional media, citizens also have a role in the fight against fake news, she stressed.

According to Vucic, the purpose of fake news is „for you to click on that content or to buy a newspaper.“ She, however, emphasized that while some of them are fun and harmless, others can cause serious consequences.

„Some fake news can actually be dangerous, even life-threatening. For example, the news that alcohol kills coronavirus. Twenty-seven people recently died in Iran from alcohol poisoning, precisely because they thought it could cure coronavirus,“ Vucic said.

You should not place 100% trust in anyone. Unfortunately, even good media outlets can make mistakes when they are in a hurry. Always keep in mind that this news may not actually be true, especially if the data sounds unusual, illogical or sensational. Common sense should be involved. While reading, always ask yourself what the evidence for these claims is, who are the sources

Vucic said that such news is „usually spread by tabloids and other pro-governmental media“, adding that social networks also have a role in spreading misinformation.

„For example, Raskrikavanje counted as many as 945 fake news stories published on the front pages of four tabloids – Informer, Srpski Telegraf, Alo and Kurir – in 2019 only. And that is only on the front pages,“ she said.

Such news is often characterized by discrepancies between the title and the text itself.

„Fake news often lurks in the headlines. Therefore, it is very important to carefully read the rest of the text and assess whether it supports the claim in the title or not, as it often happens that it does not support or even denies it. For example, we recently had the headline: ‘Vucic said that the state of emergency will be lifted in a month’. But when you check out that text, you read his statement which says that he hopes that the state of emergency will be lifted within a month.“

Citizens should always pay attention to which site is the source and how much information about editors and journalists is available, but also to the sources in the text itself. News backed by a „Chinese scientist“ and other unverified sources should always prompt the reader to ask additional questions, Vucic stressed.

„Which scientist? Can I check that? Did they give me any more information about that scientist, for example, name, surname, who he is, where he works and the like – based on which I could be positive that he had really said that. One should be especially careful, especially in times of crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic, of the news shared on social networks, which come from someone’s godfather, from a colleague’s wife who works in the pulmonology department, and the like – because in fact, such sources very often do not exist,“ warned Vucic.

The KoSSev portal, in cooperation with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, launched a media literacy campaign. See what other journalists have had to say in the previous episodes of “OpisMEDIJavanje”:

OpisMEDIJavanje: Minority media in Kosovo are important but financially vulnerable

OpisMEDIJavanje: Even-steven, only in the interest of truth

OpisMEDIJavanje – A guide to the news you release into your world!

Preuzimanje i objavljivanje tekstova sa portala KoSSev nije dozvoljeno bez navođenja izvora. Hvala na poštovanju etike novinarske profesije.