So-called “post-truths” have arrived in force in the political arena, and in the media as well. Since 2016, the year of Brexit and the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House, journalists have been facing a double challenge: reporting on events that are uncomfortable for those in power, and debunking stories that some leaders have classed as “alternative facts.”
In response, and given the palpable concern in European institutions over the potential advance of populism at the next EU elections in May 2019, the office of the European Parliament in Spain – together with the Leading European Newspaper Alliance (LENA), which EL PAÍS is part of – organized a high-level forum to deal with the issue. The event is called Fake News: How to combat false stories in Europe.
The conference took place on May 8 from 9.30am at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, and was attended by representatives from leading tech firms such as Google and Facebook, MEPs from major European political parties, and the eight editors-in-chief from the LENA newspapers: EL PAÍS, Le Figaro, Le Soir, Die Welt, Gazeta Wyborcza, La Repubblica, Tages-Anzeiger and Tribune de Genève.
Other speakers included MEPs Pilar del Castillo (PPE), Iratxe García (S&D), Maite Pagazaurtundúa (ALDE), Ana Miranda (Verdes-ALE) and Miguel Urbán (GUE). The panel was open to questions from the public, and was moderated by EL PAÍS Deputy Editor Eva Sáiz.
What are European media outlets doing to combat the half-truths that are sometimes stated by politicians? To discuss this and explain how newsrooms across Europe are tackling the issue, viewers heard from renowned German journalist Stefan Aust, the editor of Die Welt; Christophe Berti, editor of German publication Le Soir; Alexis Brezet, editor of French daily Le Figaro; Antonio Caño, editor of EL PAÍS; Pierre Ruetschi, editor of Swiss paper Tribune de Genève; Massimo Russo, general manager of the digital area of Italian daily La Repubblica; Piotr Stasinski, deputy editor of Polish publication Gazeta Wyborcza; and Judith Wittwer, editor of Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger.
The debate was broadcast simultaneously in English, French and Spanish, and was also moderated by the editor of the Spanish edition of The Huffington Post, Montserrat Domínguez.
The event was broadcast live on the website of EL PAÍS and on social networks with the hashtag #FakeNewsForum.