Countering Disinformation in Moldova

Programme provides emergency response to fighting fake news surrounding the Ukraine conflict.

Countering Disinformation in Moldova

Programme provides emergency response to fighting fake news surrounding the Ukraine conflict.

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Thursday, 21 April, 2022


Institute for War & Peace Reporting

An IWPR project to support Moldovan media’s resilience to disinformation has helped journalists counter the huge amount of fake news flooding the country following Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

The two-month pilot project, with funding by the United Kingdom’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), was initially designed to support media outlets - as well as decision makers and officials - to monitor, detect and counter the general threat of disinformation.

The programme faced new challenges when Russia attacked neighbouring Ukraine on February 24, and swiftly pivoted to focus on the new and emerging need to counter the huge amount of disinformation targeting Moldovan audiences in the wake of the invasion.

“We had to adapt very quickly and practically change everything, focusing on the disinformation about the war, the increasing amount of fake news - and our work to help journalist to report on international issues increased a lot,” said Valeriu Pasa, coordinator of one of IWPR’s partners

In the first weeks of the war, another partner, the School of Journalism of Moldova (SJM), deployed 14 of its students across ten newsrooms at a time in which they were overloaded.

“We made relevant and urgent changes in the students’ schedule, so their training responded to reality but also responded to the media’s needs, we matched the students with the newsrooms in need of help,” said SJM director Maia Metaxa.

She said that the IWPR project “gave us the strength to continue our mission for training and building a new generation of universal reporters able to provide journalism of good quality”.

The project delivered ad-hoc seminars on covering emergencies, detecting disinformation, managing social media during a war and the essentials of digital security. It also provided reporters with an international platform to develop text, video and photo essay content about Moldova’s response to the influx of Ukrainian refugees.

Lilia Zaharia, editorial coordinator of the Independent Press Association, said that the project allowed their Stop False project to “publish about 20 texts that debunked fake news, 15 of them were related to the war in Ukraine. It was a record for us because Stop False has a small team. We published small videos that were distributed on ten websites from all regions in the country”.

Opinion polls show that, despite its vulnerability to disinformation, Moldova has remained resilient and does not buy Russia’s narratives about the war.

Anastasia Nani, deputy director of the Independent Journalism Centre in Moldova, said the project had supported them informing both the media and general public, adding, “We equipped journalists and their audiences with tools to develop their critical thinking in a time in which the media space is flooded with information but not everything out there is true.

This publication was prepared under the “Countering Disinformation in Moldova Project”, implemented with the support of the United Kingdom's Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF).

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