In recent years, the media cluster has intensified its work to develop new knowledge, competence, methodology, and, most importantly, new technology that can be used to combat an ever-increasing amount of disinformation. Save the date, 8 June, for a new conference and meeting place in Media City Bergen, dedicated to the work to fight disinformation, false news, influence operations, and conspiracy theories.
At the core of this work are the many strong newsrooms in the cluster, as well as technology companies, researchers and academia, and different partners from both the private and public sectors. In June 2020, the University of Bergen and the Media Cluster was awarded a substantial research center, SFI MediaFutures, Research Center for Responsible Media Technology and Innovation. Here, the problem of disinformation and the creation of echo chambers in online media systems, causing political polarisation and controversial or questionable election outcomes in many places, are addressed and highlighted as important areas. The center brings together several academic institutions and universities as well as the most essential players in the industry, including NRK, TV 2, Schibsted, and Amedia. A range of technology companies such as IBM, Vizrt, Highsoft, Fonn Group, Vimond, and Wolftech are also involved.
Throughout 2020 and 2021, the Media Cluster has arranged several seminars, breakfast meetings and, workshops dedicated to this topic, and has set up debates during Arendalsuka. The interest in this work has been tremendous and growing. A unique annual conference and meeting place dedicated to the work against disinformation is now being launched during Future Week.
Harmful to the democracy
– Disinformation, influence operations, and so-called "Fake News" are growing in range. It is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish true from false. The concern is that people may end up making important decisions based on incorrect or false information, as we have seen many examples of recently, also in Norway. This is becoming a challenge that erodes the very foundation of our democracy, which is based on an informed and enlightened population and information we can trust, says Jacobsen.
Need for collaboration
The work to fight disinformation is on top of the agenda of many of the Media Cluster's members, as well as partners in the cluster's expanded network, both nationally and internationally. In addition, the Media Cluster also operates as an accelerator for many European startups that, among other things, develop technology aimed at combating increasingly sophisticated forgeries and misinformation.
– There is a lot to be gained from a collaboration between technology companies, newsrooms, research and academia, industry associations, and not to forget the cluster's perhaps foremost expertise in the field, Faktisk.no, says Anne Jacobsen.
Editor-in-Chief Kristoffer Egeberg has been the leader of Faktisk.no since its inception in 2017. The organization is the only one of its kind in Norway and is also part of the International Fact Check Network (IFCN).
– This is an exciting and important initiative that we hope will intensify the work on this topic in the Media Cluster. Unfortunately, recent years have shown how vulnerable modern society is in the face of disinformation and false news. We are concerned about the development and see a great need for collaboration. The Media Cluster is already an important meeting place for us, says Egeberg.
Faktisk.no is now setting up its own department of insight and analysis to increase their expertise. Faktisk.no is a partner in the Nordic Observatory for Digital Media and Information Disorder (NORDIS), a hub in the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO).
- The University of Bergen is also involved here, and Faktisk.no already has good partnerships and collaborations with other cluster members and partners such as TV 2, NRK, Amedia and Web64. The fact that the work against disinformation and fake news will be such a key part of Future Week will only strengthen the cluster's function as a meeting place for innovation and innovation in the field, says Egeberg
Reidun Kjelling Nybø, who will take over as Secretary-General of the Norwegian Editors' Association on 1 March, welcomes the new initiative.
– The increasing amount of misinformation and conspiracy theories is a development that concerns us. We are pleased that the work on fighting disinformation is strengthened in the Media Cluster. In Norway, we are fortunate that editorial media enjoy a high level of trust in the population compared to many other countries. Therefore, we have an opportunity to take the lead in this work, and together develop methods, competence, insight, and new tools that can contribute to ensuring an informed and enlightened population, also in the future, says Kjelling Nybø.
The conference is set up for the first time on 8 June during Future Week, and will be open to all interested parties to participate.