A lie posted on social media can go viral. That’s why news that’s rigorously fact checked before it appears in a credible newspaper is so vital. And just how important a trusted newspaper is, as the fog of disinformation thickens, is yet again clear from findings of a global survey by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The survey’s conclusions are unambiguous – people want news sources they can trust, especially in the middle of a crisis, and credible brands in the print media are among the most trusted.
The Times of India has been voted India’s most trusted news source in the Reuters survey. Some of our contemporaries in the print media are also among the top sources of trusted news in India. The larger message is not just about the importance of trustworthy news sources in a polarised, crisis-driven world. It’s also that this affirmation of the print media’s credibility comes at a time social media is under severe scrutiny, even from those who dearly value freedom of expression.
True, all through this terrible pandemic, social media platforms have often been places where some people have found help in potentially life-upending emergencies. But social media’s dark side has loomed far larger. Dangerous disinformation, including about medical advice, has spread, unchecked and un-fact checked. That’s not all. Fake accounts used to perpetrate everything from fraud to reputational damage abound. Little wonder the Reuters survey puts Facebook and WhatsApp as two major conduits of false information.
News consumers have shown they know the fundamental truth – someone ranting on YouTube isn’t news. News is what you read in credible newspapers, which spend time and resources to give you impartial, thoroughly vetted information.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.
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