The Ministry of Information and several partners are holding a two-day workshop to educate journalists about how to combat fake news. The June 22-23 event, held in Preah Sihanouk province, aims to give stakeholders a more precise understanding of the challenges involved in quashing misinformation.

Minister Khieu Kanharith addressed the opening of the workshop, which brought together 270 participants including officials from the information ministry and departments, journalists and information officials from Mekong-Lancang countries.

“We are holding this workshop to give information officials and journalists a more precise understanding of the challenges of suppressing fake news, and provide them with knowledge and new input into performing their roles. We also want to educate them on the appropriate legal standards that will combat fake news or false information,” he said.

Local and international speakers also gave presentations of media literacy in the context of the digital age, information verification and the creation of a safe environment on social media.

“The eliminating of misinformation and false information is something that all states around the world are paying close attention to. There are many mechanisms that can be combined with the use of technology – and the participation of the public – to tackle this problem effectively,” said Kanharith.

Preah Sihanouk deputy provincial governor Long Dimanche agreed that combating fake news is an important task and that the participants of the workshop should spread only accurate information, particularly regarding developments in society, the economy or politics.

“Preah Sihanouk province has suffered injustice, and fake news has been spread in many different forms that shares baseless, fabricated news stories and rumours. This tarnishes the reputation of the province, and affects its attractiveness to businesspeople and domestic and international tourists,” he added.

He said journalists are indispensable players who can identify sources of true or false information, and suggested that they contribute to curbing the spread of fake information that could harm the image and interests of the people in the province.

Nop Vy, executive director of the Cambodian Journalists Alliance (CamboJa), said he did not expect to see an improvement until people became more digitally literate.

“In addition, we have no institutions that are capable, independent and resourceful enough to do this work. Therefore, it is still very hard to reduce the spread of fake news,” he said.

Sok Siphana, a senior adviser to the government, said the workshop is an opportunity to educate journalists on what is considered an act of disinformation and how they can help reduce the spread of misinformation, not only in Cambodia but also the Mekong sub-region.

“Journalists need to appreciate the importance of their role. In other words, there is a need to reinforce the principles of self-regulation. I will not say more, but will leave this sensitive topic to the experts who will be sharing their thoughts with the audience later,” he added.