Journalist Clara Jiménez is clear that journalism must be honest and based on proven data and facts. This newspaper speaks to the CEO of Maldita.es, a website tasked with verifying news and rejecting misinformation and deception before attending Congress. Etorkizuna Eraikiz, this Friday at 18:00 in Tabakalera.
What is Maldita.es?
Maldita.es is a non-profit organization. helps citizens spot misinformation so they don’t overlook itthrough technology, education, journalism and data and verified facts.
In what context did this project emerge?
Maldita is actually a project that has been knitted for many years. Julio Montes, director and co-founder of Maldita in 2014, and I We founded Maldita Hemeroteca, it’s purpose is to signal that we can all change our minds, but when you’re an elected official and you promise one thing and then do something else, that needs to be explained to the electorate.. Maldita Hemeroteca is a Twitter account that we made anonymously and is starting to get a lot of followers. At some point we came out of that anonymity and became a cross section of the chain we worked at La Sexta at that time. At some point, we realize that if we want to dream big and really want to do a journalism project around data journalism, we have to quit our job and really believe this story. So five years ago, we left the jobs that fed us, jumped in the pool, and it came out full. We are now an organization with more than 40 employees working both in the field of journalism and in the fight against misinformation..
One of the foundations of a journalist’s job is to verify and compare information. Is it still being done, or has the media relaxed about it?
Whenever we talk about verification of data and facts and the work of verifiers, there are people who come out and say: but this is journalism for a lifetime; Yes and no. Obviously journalists should preferably check the information they report with more than two independent sources. But it is true that there is a part of the profession that does not necessarily do this. This is not necessarily because there are bad journalists, but the conditions we are in today in the digital world; The faster you have to go, the more you have to produce, the more it means that we need to relax the standards of a profession that I think sometimes everyone who calls themselves a journalist is trying to respect.. On the other hand, validators’ work goes even further; It doesn’t just contradict what we see on the news or in the media. What we often encounter is misinformation circulating on people’s cell phones or social networks, without news status and not covered by the media, but affecting public and political discourse.
He talked about the changes in working conditions in the digital age aimed at urgency. Has this reduced the quality of the content?
Undoubtedly, and I think there are many things that affect this paradigm shift. On the one hand, we must take this into account. After the 2008 crisis, there are fewer, younger, less experienced and less educated people in the newsrooms, and they are reporting much more than before., when what you need to fill in is a newspaper or an hour of radio or television news. On the other hand, we consume much more digitally, through social networks; It also affects the media market. The digital advertising pie is much smaller than traditional media and you have to struggle for resources. That kind of immediacy, sexier headlines, things that attract more viewers may not be in line with the best journalistic standards.. Or not always.
Recently, ‘fake news’ has gained importance especially in the digital environment. Is it a new phenomenon?
I never talk about fake news; I’m talking about false information or deception and I do this for three main reasons. The first is the advice of all experts in this field; period fake news Or false news has become a throwing weapon used by politicians against journalism they dislike.. Second, because when we talk about fake news, we imagine something that looks like news; a caption, a photo… The problem is, this A very important part of the wrong information we encounter; they’re memes, they’re decontextual videos, they’re WhatsApp chains. This is a much broader universe better defined as deception or misinformation. And third, and that’s more Damn, but I think that’s also important, it’s about not giving weapons to the enemy in wars. I don’t want people to be able to talk about the news to say it’s wrong; The news is true, otherwise it is not news. I’m not talking about the media just as they are actually websites dedicated to misinformation.. Obviously, disinformation has always existed; What happens is that those who have had the power to do this before have given false information: governments, the Church, the big economic elites, the big communications companies. Now information has been democratized, but disinformation has also been democratized. It’s very easy to take something that looks like a media outlet and launch it and start spreading lies, and sometimes people won’t be able to diagnose it.
Are there certain issues around which misinformation revolves today?
We saw a lot of things about the war in Ukraine last year. But I guess if I had to divide into blocks, I would say have a political foot which always was. There’s a leg that has a lot to do with health; We think of the pandemic, but it goes a little further: it’s about general health, about nutrition, about myths about miracle cures, that sort of thing. There is a foot that is quite common in Spain that rises again when summer comes. misinformation about immigrantsThis is problematic because it generates hate speech that is dangerous to the way we understand society. Then I can say that there are three more themes that we see a lot; starting to emerge much more strongly now than it did three years ago, which is misinformation about the climate crisis and climate denial; from time to time, there are wonderful types misinformation on gender equality issues, another of the disinformation war horses; and the third, which sometimes doesn’t fall within the realm of deception, but which I believe is part of it as well, and we verifiers are very dedicated to it, What does it have to do with fraud? online.
I was told that under the yes only yes law, it would be necessary to sign a contract to have sexual intercourse. What represents an advancement in rights, is it more likely to be misinformation?
To be honest, I don’t think we’ve done a deep enough study to make this claim. I’m not sure it’s about progressive rights, but it’s about the realities of the country we live in. I believe Spain is an increasingly polarized country, as the data show. In polarized countries, we see that misinformation feeds polarization and this turns into a vicious circle.which is constantly used to try to feed back this state of tension, based on lies, where there are key issues within polarized discourses.
How can the public know whether what they are consuming is legitimate?
There are some keys we need to pay attention to. The first is where I read it; do i know the source? Do I know who is in the middle? latter, Do you have a date? Does it look like a news, does it have the features that a news should have? Third, being a little more technical, although highly recommended, use side reading. Imagine reading a story that your aunt sent you on WhatsApp or that you saw on someone’s Facebook; If he’s talking about an organization, Google it, see if that organization is legitimate or really, it’s a four-person thing that shouldn’t be the voice of authority. Are there more media talking about what you read, or are they selling it to you privately on the internet that just a website counts? You should do a series of searches that can help you further determine whether what you’re reading is reliable. And one very important thing, the last piece of advice: If you don’t see yourself as capable of validation, If you’re not sure it’s genuine when someone sends it to you, don’t share it. This is the foundation of helping stop the misinformation ecosystem.
Younger generations like Z claim to be informed through social networks and the like. What can “traditional” media do to attract this audience?
Also, I think it’s something that has been part of Maldita’s strategy from the beginning. If the mountain does not go to Mohammed, Mohammed goes to the mountain.. In other words, I think the media should perhaps consider the loyalty of these new readers if we are not able to persuade new generations, or even audiences who are not our readers, to regularly come to our website and consume us. no longer pretending to access the Internet, media should be on TikTok, WhatsApp and produce direct and exclusive content for these platforms and these audiences.. The sooner we assume this, the sooner we will stop losing readers and, above all, the sooner we will gain new ones. Because those young people who use TikTok today will have to consume and read newspapers when they reach the age of 30.
Is there really impartial journalism? Should it be?
I believe that there is no impartial journalism; there is honest journalism, this is something different. For example, we try to do journalism that is not partisan, does not position itself, does not take sides, and does not form opinions without verification. Obviously, all journalists have their own opinions and they certainly affect the way we write and act, but I think the important thing is to be very transparent with the audience about being a part of the team, how decisions are made and where they are based. On top of that, you should also try to ensure diversity within the teams created. Diverse teams are more likely to find balance and have certain biases on one side of the spectrum, just as our country is diverse. Also, should a journalist be impartial or not, the concept of journalism for me, journalism should be data and facts, that’s what we’re here for. And then anyone who thinks what they want.
We’ve been hearing for a while that journalism is in crisis. Do you really see it like that? Is there room for hope?
I am generally an optimistic person in life. Yes, obviously journalism is in crisis; yes money is low, journalists are fired every day, it’s hard to get out of the race and find a job. All this happens, we won’t deny it. But I also think there now there are super exciting projects, new careers in journalism, super demandI think young people should think about it too. When I go to lectures at universities, I always make the same comment: I know we all want to be the Iñaki Gabilondo of his generation or Angels Barceló or Carlos Alsina or Julia Otero. but the truth is that Iñaki Gabilondo, Julia Otero, has one and the rest of us need to do other things in life.. And among other things that can be done, there are things that go far beyond writing in a newspaper every day.
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