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The problem of fake news in Serbia is seen through the prism of political propaganda machine as well

May 16, 2018 | by: point

Raskrikavanje is a Serbian website aimed at combating media disinformation and debunking inaccurate information presented as facts. This initiative was launched in the late 2017 by KRIK, which has been investigating crime and corruption for several years now. The idea for combating fake news was developed together with colleagues from the Bosnian version of fact checking website We had a chance to talk a bit with Vesna Radojević, editor at Raskrikavanje, couple of days before she presents the initiative at POINT 7.0 conference.

Are you satisfied with how Raskrikavanje did in its first six months? Did your audiences get accustomed to the concept?

When you take into the account that we get daily suggestions for debunking of published news, I believe that part of our audiences has already become accustomed to us, and that some of them want to help. This should be followed by getting through to the audiences which is not online and doesn’t use social media as a mean for communication nor as a news outlet.

What challenges do you face most often in your work? How does your everyday work at RasKrikavanje looks like, and what are the tools you use most often?

Too much work, and not enough human resources is the biggest problem. Daily media monitoring, even with a small number of media, takes up a lot of time, and our ambition is to cover as many articles as we can.

Daily work on the project ” Raskrikavanje” involves the monitoring of certain media, checking the claims in the news, writing journalistic articles. Our organization is recognized in Serbia by through research and quality investigative journalism.

We use a number of databases such as business registers, available databases of state institutions, tools for discovering trends on Twitter and Facebook, and software for editing or displaying the data we collect.

Is fake news today, realistically, a problem in Serbia? What are the most common channels for their spreading?

As I have pointed out many times – false stories aren’t spread exclusively by anonymously held, less-known news sites, but also by all types of media with large audiences.  Problem of fake news also has a political angle where political propaganda machine allows the authorities to hold their positions of power. Despite media laws and attempts to self-regulate, most media today have simply become a tool for politicians. For this reason, in addition to the branding something as fake news, and can brad a news story with other media manipulation. The channels for spreading fake news are diverse – whether it’s done through small news sites, newspaper or TV media close to government, or through a well-organized group of “bots” with agenda of obscuring the debate on social networks.

How does media react to your list of potentially risky media? Have they contacted you when they found themselves as subject of your analysis?

Just as politicians ignore the uncovering of numerous corruption cases, the media is mostly silent when they find themselves in our articles. Even though we contact media in question when we write about them, getting feedback or answer almost never happens. The principle of journalistic responsibility is torn apart, just as the part of political responsibility for publicly spoken words.

What are your plans for the future?

More content, more research stories, and the development of tools to help reach the audience that is not primarily our “own”.