An editor wearing a face mask works in the control room at C5N news TV channel on April 17, 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
An editor wearing a face mask works in the control room at C5N news TV channel on April 17, 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. © Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images

A Year of Fighting Disinformation

23 December 2021

IWPR's Frontline Updates – unique insights from our network of local reporters and updates from our programmes.

The global information ecosphere is facing a perfect storm, and as the year ends it is vital both to recognise the challenge and to celebrate those working to chart a way through it.

Anthony Borden

By Anthony Borden
IWPR FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR


Sharply polarised societies are roiled by partisan broadcasters and divisive social media, sustaining a culture of constant outrage and ensuring that rational, fact-based discourse is debased.Digitalisation has overturned old editorial gatekeeping, while the sector continues to haemorrhage income in the pandemic, causing the UN to warn of “media extinction event”.


Russia, China and other state and non-state actors orchestrate viral disinformation campaigns to fuel discord, skew elections, destabilise societies and instigate violence. Meantime, attacks on media continue with impunity, as dictators, populists and the corrupt on all continents harass, imprison and assassinate journalists without fear of reprisal.

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Against this deluge, there are signs of fightback. President Biden has thrown US leadership behind significant initiatives to support media sustainability. The Nobel Peace Prize was for the first time since 1935 awarded for journalism, with Maria Ressa from the Philippines calling for a “shift [in] social priorities to rebuild journalism for the 21st century”.
 

Journalists around the world are fighting to uphold the principles of honest reporting. And through IWPR projects around the world, local voices are making themselves heard – distinguishing facts from lies and engaging with communities to highlight both challenges and solutions.
 

In Syria we supported the creation of online archives of atrocities perpetrated by Islamic State extremists, contributing directly to several prosecutions.
 

We have trained, mentoring and supported hundreds of journalists working in the most challenging of circumstances, from Ukraine to Iraq, from Myanmar to Vietnam. In Africa, the Middle East and Asia we aided networks of grassroots reporters to combat Covid-19 disinformation and provide reliable information for local communities.
 

These and other projects across more than 30 countries provide not only better information but incredible inspiration. They fuel our own commitment to support courageous journalists with ideas, with training and with financial assistance.
 

We call it giving voice, driving change, and in these times it is more important than ever. We are incredibly grateful for all those who have supported us, and we encourage others to join us again this year, as we mobilise critical resources for this vital mission.

Bosnia: The Town That Resisted Ethnic Division

Despite nationalist politics elsewhere, residents refuse to be divided along ethnic lines.

By Merdijana Sadović
IWPR WESTERN BALKANS REGIONAL DIRECTOR

Primary school "Vareš" used to have 1,200 pupils before the war and now it has only 243 – 148 Bosniak and 95 ethnic Croat children.
Primary school "Vareš" used to have 1,200 pupils before the war and now it has only 243 – 148 Bosniak and 95 ethnic Croat children. © IWPR
A small river runs through the center of Vareš. The whole area is rich in water.
A small river runs through the center of Vareš. The whole area is rich in water. © IWPR
The Mayor of Vareš municipality is a Croat, Zdravko Marojevic, who was elected twice thanks to the votes he received from Bosniaks.
The Mayor of Vareš municipality is a Croat, Zdravko Marojevic, who was elected twice thanks to the votes he received from Bosniaks. © IWPR
A mine pit lake in Vareš called Nula (Zero), which was created when a local mine stopped working at the beginning of Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.
A mine pit lake in Vareš called Nula (Zero), which was created when a local mine stopped working at the beginning of Bosnia's 1992-1995 war. © IWPR

“Our Bosniak and Croat children spend breaks together, they go to school trips together, they attend extracurricular activities together. So, there is no segregation like in some other parts of the country.”

Muris Parić
Vareš school principal

A pressure guage stands on a pipe at the Dashava natural gas facility in Dashava, Ukraine.
A pressure guage stands on a pipe at the Dashava natural gas facility in Dashava, Ukraine. © Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Ukraine Faces Winter Energy Crisis

Analysts fear that Russia may become the country’s only possible electricity supplier.

Alarm Raised Over Child Suicide in Kyrgyzstan

The problem predates the pandemic, but coronavirus restrictions have exacerbated it.

© Nijwam Swargiary/Unsplash
© Nijwam Swargiary/Unsplash
A view of Armenia's capital Yerevan with Mount Ararat in the background. The legendary resting-place of Noah’s Ark is a symbol of Armenian identity and it lies in Turkish territory.
A view of Armenia's capital Yerevan with Mount Ararat in the background. The legendary resting-place of Noah’s Ark is a symbol of Armenian identity and it lies in Turkish territory. © Monica Ellena
COMMENT

Assessing Armenia-Turkey Normalisation

After decades of strained relations, why are they finally making serious moves towards re-opening ties?

"Normalisation is just that: a mere first step and not reconciliation or rapprochement."

PROJECT HIGHLIGHT

Covid-19: the Africa Story

What links vampires, al-Shabab and onions?

A healthcare professional is vaccinated against Covid-19 on March 10, 2021 in Kampala, Uganda.
A healthcare professional is vaccinated against Covid-19 on March 10, 2021 in Kampala, Uganda. © Luke Dray/Getty Images

A six-part podcast series produced by IWPR tells the story of the Covid-19 pandemic from an African perspective, taking in fake news, conspiracy theories and bogus cures.
 

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