Power of image transforming journalism: AFP Editor-in-Chief

DUBAI, 3rd April 2018 (WAM) – The power of the image that is transforming journalism should be used collectively to counter and debunk fake news, said Phil Chetwynd, Global Editor-in-Chief, Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Addressing the audience on the first day of the 17th edition of the Arab Media Forum in Dubai on the topic ‘Visuals: Changing the World and Shaping the Future’, he said fake news is misinformation and it is the responsibility of the media to debunk them. The best way to debunk them is through visuals and images.

As part of a collective campaign against fake news, the AFP bureau has debunked several pieces of fake news with videos. He cited a photo depicting a drunk man attacking two nurses that was shown as an example of anti-white racism. The story supposedly took place in France and showed a violent migrant, but AFP Moscow quickly found it originated from Novogorod, Russia, and involved a drunk Russian man attacking two nurses. This was debunked with an AFP video that was viewed more than 10 million times and shared 100,000 times on the Facebook page “SOS anti-white racism”.


Truth can be told in a tremendously powerful way with images, Chetwynd said, citing examples from the immigrant crises in Bangladesh, Syria and Afghanistan.

Today’s all news is led by visuals, which are changing the way reports are written. With much more written around images, pictures are influencing writing every day, he said. In modern times, digital media require everything to be explained graphically. That’s why we have 360 degree photographs and videos, he said.

“Innovation allows us to explain stories graphically with high-speed interactive cameras that can bring in new audiences. Though there are complexities, they have a tremendous impact on journalists and viewers alike,” he said.

There is a new crop of smart citizen journalists, who I would call “eyewitnesses”. For everything we do, there is an eyewitness and everybody has a phone in their pocket. The images they take are stronger than news reports. The only thing is that they must be used judiciously so that they don’t promote propaganda and spread fake news.

Held under the patronage of Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, from 3-4 April 2018, the 17th edition of the Arab Media Forum (AMF) has brought together more than 3,000 prominent regional and international media figures and thoughts leaders.

Apart from high-profile local speakers, the two-day event features 50 speakers representing 20 countries from across the Arab region and the world. Under the theme ‘Impactful Media Trends’, prominent media personalities, writers, influencers and academics are sharing their views on diverse issues at the Forum with the aim of forging a new vision for the media.

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