Strengthening Professional Newsgathering in the Age of Disinformation: NMC’s Call to Action

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Strengthening Professional Newsgathering in the Age of Disinformation: NMC’s Call to Action

NMC CEO Andrew Moger urges public policy support for primary source journalism to combat fake news and AI-generated misinformation

Andrew Moger, CEO of the News Media Coalition (NMC) of major news publishers and news agencies, drew attention to the importance of public policy makers and public figures to recognise the value to society of everyday professional news reporting. He said particularly now – at a time of disinformation, synthetic untrustworthy AI-generated information and economic constraints on newsroom operations – it is vital for governments and other institutions to proactively support and enable this form of journalism.

In an address to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Culture Committee in Denmark on 28 May 2024, Andrew Moger stressed that backing for professional witness-based newsgathering – what the NMC terms Primary Source Journalism – needed different approaches to the vital work concerning physical and online harm to journalists.

He emphasised the indispensable role of professional journalism in countering the surge of fake news and disinformation. He illustrated his point with a striking array of recent examples, from doctored videos of sports figures and politicians to fabricated endorsements by celebrities. These instances of synthetic media underscore the urgent need for robust primary source journalism to uncover and report the truth.

Moger articulated the challenges faced by newsrooms today, noting that while there is a public perception of a healthy journalism industry, the reality is far different. Economic pressures and restricted access to events severely hamper journalists’ ability to perform their crucial role. He outlined several key questions highlighting these barriers: Can journalists consistently attend events? Can they access essential information and question public figures? Can they deliver reliable, timely news to the public? Unfortunately, the answer is often no.

He criticized the restrictive practices of some sports organizations and event organizers, which limit journalists’ access under dubious pretences such as “insufficient space” at press conferences. Moger pointed out that these limitations often stem from a desire to control the narrative and prioritize direct communication with fans over independent reporting. This trend is troubling as it diminishes the public’s access to unbiased information.

Moger also highlighted inconsistencies in media access across different sports and countries, noting that while some entities recognize the importance of a free press, others treat journalism as an afterthought. He underscored that the sale of broadcast and media rights frequently includes exclusivity clauses that exclude independent news organizations, further hindering the free flow of information.

Addressing the broader context, Moger called for policymakers to support primary source journalism as a vital tool against disinformation. He urged them to recognize the existing frameworks that deal with fake news and propaganda, which rely heavily on professional journalism. His message to sports and event organizers was clear: allow journalists to do their job, as their work is crucial in maintaining the integrity of public information.

In conclusion, Moger appealed to public policymakers, politicians, and public figures to avoid disparaging the news gathering profession. Instead, he called for a concerted effort to promote the value of primary source journalism and integrate its support into campaigns aimed at safeguarding journalism. This support is essential not only for combating the challenges posed by AI-generated disinformation but also for upholding the principles of a free and informed society.


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