Media Analysis And Fact Checking

Published On: May 2, 2023Categories: Fact Check

Chalawsaf’s stance

Chalawsaf has started its activities in April 2023 to verify and separate fake and unverified news from accurate and confirmed news, and in doing so, it has no interest or compromise with any party or media outlet, and it is not biased towards any party or media outlet. Chalawsaf’s goal is to identify fake and unverified news and inform the public about fake, incorrect, and unverified news.

Preface

No media outlet operates solely for the purpose of informing the public. Rather, all media outlets pursue profit-seeking, fame, and scoring points behind their activities. In the promotion of fame, profit-seeking, and point-scoring, media outlets play a decisive role in the public’s perception of them. On the other hand, no media outlet provides news for free to the public, and people indirectly pay to see, hear, or read the news. When people pay for news, they give media outlets fame and determine their place, so media outlets have a responsibility to deliver accurate news to the public and steer clear of false and misleading news. People deserve access to accurate information, and this is their right.

In today’s world, news has become an important part of human life, just like food. Today’s human beings plan their lives based on the news they receive and are influenced by the news they receive. Just as unhealthy food harms human health, false and inaccurate news also harms human psyche. In this regard, media outlets that do not pay attention to accuracy and broadcast misleading and false information will be responsible for the psychological harm to the public.

The prevalence of misinformation in the media

In April, more than sixty false and misleading news stories were spread by the media, with varying degrees of inaccuracy. Most of these stories were propagated by media outlets, especially those operating outside the country.

Misinformation and mistakes in the media come in two forms: mistakes in exclusive news stories reported by a single outlet, and widespread mistakes reported simultaneously by multiple outlets. The type of mistake arises from fake and inaccurate news stories that media outlets believe to be true without conducting proper fact-checking.

Media outlets operating within Afghanistan are forced to spread one-sided and unverified information due to censorship and limited access to information. In some cases, they are unable to maintain a balance in their reporting. However, media outlets operating outside the country sometimes take advantage of their freedom and spread false news stories that put lives at risk. Since these outlets are not accountable to anyone and there is no legal recourse for those who have been harmed by their actions, they continue their irresponsible activities without fear of consequences.

Relying on a single source

Several media outlets operating outside the country are faced with a shortage of reporters inside the country. Although these outlets may have ereporters within the country, their reporters are inexperienced. Therefore, the decision-makers of these outlets are in a hurry to broadcast news and fill their news hours or social media channels. If a citizen sends them a video without evaluating the news or verifying the claims, they create and broadcast news without proper fact-checking.

An example of such news in recent months was about the Taliban collecting bribes from drivers, in which a short news report stated that the Taliban collects bribes from drivers “daily” and “in every part of the city.” However, several citizens and drivers working on various routes denied this news.

Misleading readers with catchy headlines

Some media outlets, in order to attract readers to their news, provide false information and sometimes distort the news.

One of these media outlets wrote an attractive headline and presented news from the perspective of the Afghan representative at the United Nations, but the acting head of the Afghan mission at the United Nations told us that he did not say this and asked the media outlet to correct their news.

In another news story, the headline was about a wrestler qualifying for the UFC, but the text of the news said that if the wrestler wins several competitions, he will qualify for the UFC.

There are also other examples where the reporter writes their news from the perspective of a government official and accuses someone without specifying who made the accusation, and includes it at the end of their new

Inaccuracies and low literacy in news reporting

Sometimes, inaccuracies or perhaps low literacy in news reporting can cause confusion for readers, especially those who are reading the news. Examples of such inaccuracies have been compiled below.

In one example, regarding the construction of a road, the writer wanted to make the news more interesting and wrote that for the first time in 35 years, a motorway had been built. If the road was built for the first time, what is the need to write “after 35 years”? In the translation of this news, it was written as 30 years.

The Hat of One News on Another News

Images play a prominent role in accurately documenting and reporting events, but it’s often seen that an image from one event is mistakenly used for another event. One example is the broadcast of a TTP attack on the police HQ in Karachi, Pakistan, mistakenly labeled as a conflict in the Panjshir province.

In another instance, the name of a district in one of the western provinces was incorrectly written as a district in one of the northern provinces.

Impact of inaccuracy and haste

In the past month, at least two news reports have been aired in media outlets operating outside the country, which falsely identified two living men as dead. One of these reports was publicized simultaneously by several media outlets, while the second report was only aired by one outlet. The dissemination of these reports not only damaged the mental health of the two men involved and put themselves in danger, but also caused distress to their families and friends.

One of these reports was created by a fake Facebook post, where a user uploaded a photo of a young man on his page claiming that the Taliban had killed his doctor brother in the Ghorband valley of Parwan province. To make the news look credible, the media outlets claimed that reputable sources had confirmed the report. However, none of the media outlets fact-checked the claim or searched for the owner of the image to verify if the young man in the photo was indeed dead. After realizing they had been fooled, the media outlets did not correct their mistake or apologize to the young man, but instead removed the news from their websites.

The young man in the photo was identified as Dadullah Parsa, who was deeply disturbed by the false news claiming that the Taliban had killed him, fearing that such misinformation could endanger his life.

In another report, one of the media outlets introduced a young man as a member of the Afghanistan Freedom Front, and falsely claimed that he had been killed in a battle with the Taliban. The young man in question is alive, and the false news has caused distress to him and his friends.

These reports show the dependence of media outlets on social media networks, as many of these outlets heavily rely on social media for a significant portion of their information without verifying its accuracy.

Outcome:

According to Chalawsaf’s belief, the media operating within the country face restrictions and cannot freely report on certain events and delve into provocative and dark sides of the events. However, even with these limitations, these media outlets continue to operate within the country and have better access to resources compared to media outlets based outside the country.

The media operating within the country sometimes resort to self-censorship due to limitations and pressures, and cannot maintain balance in their news coverage. These media outlets are also afraid of facing problems and sometimes turn into a loudspeaker for the ruling regime.

Media outlets based outside the country have more freedom, but these media outlets either do not have correspondents in the country or employ individuals with less experience in journalism, leading them to fall into the trap of social networks and rumors.

Media outlets based outside the country often compete in reporting the news, and in many cases, the rush to publish news has had negative consequences.

These media outlets also cover issues that are difficult to confirm or deny, for example, they may report a major claim made by sigle source, while some of these claims require precise and impartial fact-checking by professional and experienced truth-seeking groups.

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