Why we need a strong AJA: A time full of threats, a time for a strong association


Journalists should not hesitate when they voice their opinions. In fact, silence is for dead people. Journalists need to speak for a better world, productive cooperation, and friendly relationships.

For one week, I spent my days and nights with a group of journalists from across the world, but mainly from the Asian continent. The World Journalists Conference, masterfully organized by the Journalists Association of Korea, was a great opportunity to meet colleagues from several countries, share experiences and discuss bilateral and multilateral opportunities while enjoying the gracious hospitality provided by our hosts.

Listening to international journalists’ presentations and arguments, I noticed that we all share the same concerns and the same aspirations regardless of where we came from. Whether our countries are small or vast, deep-rooted in history or still making their first steps as independent and sovereign nations, we all agreed about the nature of the problems in Asian media and we all concurred on what should be done to fulfill our aspirations.

During the time together, we agreed that fake news, the “false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting”, were our common nemesis and that we needed to address it effectively; they are especially a big issue for our values, ethics, and commitment to the truth and facts. It was obvious that the increasingly rapid circulation of information, misinformation and disinformation on social media under several guises was causing media chaos, often fueled by modern technologies. Even Asia is not immune to the tsunami of false news and misrepresentations that are being used by some forces to serve specific agendas.

Asia should aim to achieve a world-class status because of its spiritual and material resources and remarkable qualities. But fake news spread in the publishing industry, in audio files, in videos, and via online media. Echo chambers have been set up and used to spread fake news and cause chaos. They have often exploited the soft spots of journalists and attacked our weaknesses, regardless of their importance.

They rely on various platforms, publishing false reports, beaming fake information and propagating baseless analyses that portray us negatively, inflate our shortcomings and deflate our successes. Such attacks on journalists’ identity and ambitions keep us in lower positions, never become self-reliant and always depending on others for information, news, features, and analyses. However, as long as we choose not to work together, we remain vulnerable and exposed to unexpected dangers and unpredictable risks.

The various national associations of journalists in Asia should work together in order to strengthen themselves through sharing experiences, discussing issues of shared interest and building a forward-looking future that meets our needs and aspirations. We can build our strength as an umbrella by supporting one another in times of difficulties and extending our hands journalists.

If we do not come together, we will not have a strong AJA, and if we do not have a strong AJA, we will not be able to elevate our status as professionals committed to the truth and to the values that we have search together. For these reasons, we need committed leaders who inspire, motivate and show the way. We need leaders with true visions and plans; and leaders who can build strong teams that will bring success to journalism and media in Asia. During the time I spent in Korea, I met such people. They had remarkable visions, open views, and the commendable readiness to think, talk, share and work with others towards building a stronger and more efficient AJA that is in our vital interest.

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