By SHEFALI REKHI
Thirty newsrooms around the world will join forces to mark World News Day (WND) on Sept 28 to showcase the contributions made by professional newsrooms to the communities they serve.
They will tell the stories behind the reports and features that made an impact in the past year, giving audiences a behind-the-scenes look at how these were put together.
These range from reports which exposed corruption and scams, to issues being neglected by society or systems not working to deliver services, as well as insights on people and events shaping the course of current affairs.
“Getting the news is never easy. It involves much legwork on the ground, doing many interviews with newsmakers and experts, fact-checking, ensuring you have the right sources and enough of them, delving deep to understand the issues so you can put things in proper context,” said Warren Fernandez, president, World Editors Forum, and editor-in-chief, The Straits Times and Singapore Press Holdings’ English, Malay and Tamil Media (EMTM) Group.
“That’s what journalists in professional newsrooms do. And they do it against a deadline and across media platforms throughout the day. It is time-consuming, laborious work, and takes considerable resources to do well,” he said.
“The aim of World News Day is to celebrate the work of professional journalists and newsrooms, and the critical role they play in our societies.
“By stepping up to make the case for good journalism, we hope to garner public support for and trust in the media, as well as inspire our newsroom to rise to the challenge of delivering the news and serving their audiences.
“In a world which is growing more complex and more polarized, and with the proliferation of so much fake news, the role of professional newsrooms in helping to establish the facts and provide the platform for sober and sensible debates is increasingly critical to the proper functioning of our societies,” he added.
The Straits Times (ST) is among the 30 newsrooms taking part in the campaign. Some of the early participants include The Star and Bernama (Malaysia), the Jakarta Post (Indonesia), the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Manila Bulletin (the Philippines), The Bangkok Post (Thailand), and Viet Nam News (Vietnam), from South-east Asia.
Others include Joong Ang Ilbo and Chosun Ilbo (South Korea), South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), The Hindu, Hindu Business Line and The Quint (India), United Daily News (Taiwan), Tiso Blackstar (South Africa), OEM (Mexico), and the Welad El Balad Media (Egypt), who have confirmed their participation.
WND is being organized by the World Editors Forum (WEF), the network for editors within the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra). The latter counts 3,000 news-publishing companies and technology entrepreneurs as its members and its reach extends to more than 120 countries.
The WND initiative is supported by Google News Initiative, a project of the global Google platform, to promote quality journalism.
The inaugural WND was hosted by the Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF) on May 3 last year, and celebrated on May 2 by CJF this year.
The WEF’s Asia chapter is leading efforts to include several newsrooms from Asia in the global campaign and it is being held on Sept. 28 this year to coincide with UNESCO’s International Day for Universal Access to Information. News organizations taking part in this project have agreed to run the stories from across the 30 newsrooms joining in this initiative, on their platforms and pages on Sept. 28. These will also appear on the WND site here: www.worldnewsday.org that has gone live today. A string of activities has also been lined up for the celebrations on Sept 28.
The National Youth Achievement Award in Singapore is organizing a photo contest for young people under the theme “My News. My Story,” to raise awareness about the importance of real news.
On the same day, WEF will hold a “WND: Why It Matters” forum on the importance of quality journalism, in Singapore. Journalists will share their stories, editors and experts will hold a panel discussion on good journalism and there will be a session on fake news.
For digital viewers, there will be a Live WND show on Youtube to be broadcast from ST studios. It will feature videos and content from participating newsrooms and discussion on the work of journalists.
Ms. Esther Ng, chief content officer, Star Media Group said: “In the era of fake news where all sorts of stories get passed around via the social media within minutes, real news has not just become more important, it is a necessity. Our tasks as journalists have expanded – we are now not merely reporters but news analysts, and we strive to affect change and shape the nation.”
Ms. Tammy Tam, editor-in-chief of South China Morning Post said: “Independent journalism matters more to the world than ever before. With the rise in fake news and misinformation tactics, World News Day is an important reminder that when we educate readers through news, we help them develop informed perspectives and decisions about current affairs.
“This is the day we stand up for good journalism. This is the day we celebrate what we aim to do,” she said.
Added Natalie Turvey, president and executive director of the CJF, on the rationale for WND: “It is more important than ever to highlight journalism’s contribution to our society and democracy. “With the media facing so many existential challenges, WND serves as a reminder that as goes journalism, so goes democracy.”
The writer is Asia News Network Editor, The Straits Times, Singapore.