SINGAPORE: News organisations are important in the fight against fake news, even as new legislation is being developed to deal with the problem, said Mr Chee Hong Tat on Wednesday (Jul 26).
In his keynote address at the Global News Forum, the Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information said that "a regulatory approach cannot be the only solution".
In addition to raising media literacy through programmes such as the National Library Board's SURE campaign and the Media Literacy Council's Better Internet Campaign, a key factor is "where consumers can turn to if they want credible and reliable information, and what they can do if they encounter a piece of fake news", said Mr Chee.
"This is where news organisations and public broadcasters can, and must, play a critical role," he added.
"NO SIMPLE SOLUTION OR SILVER BULLET"
In proposing how the local broadcasting industry can move forward in its campaign, Mr Chee highlighted a quote by Singapore's first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew: "The media play a key role in the life of every country, but it is a role which differs from one country to another.
"We should be cautious of adopting a one-size-fits-all strategy or think that a certain technology or method can be the silver bullet," said Mr Chee.
Mr Chee proposed that professional news outlets focus on quality reporting instead of attempting to "beat fake news at their own game", for example with sensational headlines or generating clickbait.
"Exaggerated claims, misleading content and provocative emotional appeals may capture eyeballs in the short run, but they will tarnish the organisation's professionalism and credibility over time."
News outlets should instead commit to facts and accuracy, remain transparent and impartial in their reporting, and serve the wider public interest, he said.
Mr Chee highlighted that reducing resources for newsrooms when faced with financial pressures would be a mistake, saying it would only weaken capabilities in the long term and affect the ability to produce quality content.
He also said that it is important for news organisations to develop deeper digital capabilities to stay relevant and operate effectively in the digital space, as well as to build strong networks and partnerships to deal with the industry's challenges.
Most news outlets do not have sufficient scale to compete with Internet giants like Google and Facebook, so there is value in collaboration and taking a united stand against fake news, he added.