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The Straits Times-WAN-IFRA conference proposes steps to fight fake news

SINGAPORE, 20 June 2017 – The two-day “Keep it Real: Truth and Trust in the Media” conference ended today with a suite of recommendations aimed at curbing the spread of misinformation in Asia.

As one of their first moves, news organisations in the region will draw up a step-by-step checklist to help journalists and readers identify and flag fake news. 

Members of the Asia News Network, a regional alliance of 22 media organisations, will also share with one another a list of websites that actively purvey misinformation in their respective countries, as well as stories and content that each member produces to debunk fake news stories. Members will also collaborate to cross check dubious information originating in a member country with the respective ANN member based there. 

These were among the outcomes from deliberations of three workshops on the second day of the event, which was organised by The Straits Times and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). The conference was held at the Singapore Management University’s new Law School building. (See attached factsheet)  

Summing up the conference, Mr Warren Fernandez, Editor-In-Chief of Singapore Press Holdings’ English, Malay and Tamil Media group and Editor of The Straits Times, said media organisations must strive to stay true to their mission of providing reliable and responsible news against the onslaught of misinformation. 

“Trust is something that we have to earn all the time and not to be taken for granted, in light of the very real threats the media is up against,” said Mr Fernandez, urging news organisations to be more proactive in calling out questionable content and sharing stories that they have debunked with their communities. 

He added that media in the region could also set up collaborative projects to cross-check information on issues of common concern such as terrorism, the environment, or the South China Sea. 

Added Mr Gilles Demptos, Director Asia of WAN-IFRA: “The widespread proliferation of false news on digital platforms is indeed an opportunity for quality publications to stand out and demonstrate the value of real journalism. However, a key conclusion of this event is that a multi-stakeholders approach involving tech companies, social media networks, news media, government agencies and the civil society is required to effectively fight misinformation. It is encouraging to see that the different parties in today’s news ecosystem have spontaneously joined the event and committed to collaborate on implementing some of its key recommendations." 

Mr Torben Stephan, Director of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, a key partner of the event, said: "Fake news is a major problem for social media networks. I only trust independent, professional and critical journalists who verify their sources carefully. This is the quality of news the world needs now."   

Associate Professor Eugene Tan from Singapore Management University's school of law, whose group was tasked to look at the legal and regulatory framework to tackle misinformation, suggested the setting up of an independent regulatory body to act on perpetrators of fake news. 

On why his group was wary of governments taking on this role, Prof Tan said: "... governments themselves, for a variety of reasons, could also generate fake news. You can't have a government being the judge and the jury." 

Participants in this group also stressed the importance of good journalism and "good media behaviour", adding that laws should take a multi-faceted approach. 

The Straits Times' Managing Editor Fiona Chan, who chaired the workshop on fact-checking, said her group called for a regional task force to verify rumours in major events such as elections. Her group also advocated equipping journalists with the technology and tools to fact-check falsehoods, involving university students in fact-checking projects as part of their course module and launching campaigns to raise awareness on the scourge of misinformation. 

Hong Kong University lecturer Anne Kruger, who led the workshop on news media literacy, said beside making this a key part of the education curriculum, there is a need to reach out to the elderly who are more vulnerable to fake news. This could be done through community ambassadors and role models, and tapping platforms such as Whatsappwhich older people typically use to access and share messages and social media links.  

The two-day event brought together nearly 200 policymakers, media practitioners and technology experts publishers to examine the rise of misinformation  and explore initiatives in Asia to fight its spread and improve media literacy. Participants committed to work on implementing some of the event’s proposals,  which they will review at the WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Asia conference in Singapore in November.   


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For media enquiries, please contact:

Gilles Demptos (Mr) 
Director Asia, WAN-IFRA
Tel: +65 6562 8443

Irene Ngoo (Ms)
Vice President, Editorial Projects Unit
English, Malay and Tamil Media Group (EMTMG)
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
Tel: +65 6319 1066 

Deror Wong (Mr)
Assistant Manager
Corporate Communications & CSR 
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: 6319 1226 
HP: 9848 6934

About The Straits Times

The Straits Times, the English-language flagship daily of Singapore Press Holdings, is the most-read newspaper in Singapore and is followed widely in the region for its comprehensive coverage of local, regional and world news, provided by its correspondents in 20 bureaus in major cities worldwide. 

Launched on July 15, 1845, The Straits Times underwent a major redesign across all platforms in July 2015, when it celebrated its 170th anniversary. This revamp is part of its continuing efforts to refresh its products, maintain quality and stay relevant to the changing needs of its readers. Its integrated newsroom operates round-the-clock, providing readers with news as it happens on all platforms, from its website at, Apple and Android apps to social media. 

The Straits Times is a member of two media networks - the Asia News Network and the Impact Journalism Day alliance of newspapers - and it has won multiple international media awards, including from the Society of Publishers in Asia, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers' Association (Panpa), Society of News Design and Wan-Ifra. Its revamped paper won a gold medal for overall newspaper design by the World Association of Newspaper at the Asian Media Awards in Manila in 2016.

About Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

Incorporated in 1984, main board-listed Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH) is Asia’s leading media organisation, engaging minds and enriching lives across multiple languages and platforms.



The English/Malay/Tamil Media group comprises the print and digital operations of The Straits Times, The Business Times, The New Paper, Berita Harian and their respective student publications. It also includes subsidiaries Tamil Murasu Ltd, which publishes Tamil Murasu and tabla!; book publishing arm Straits Times Press; SPH Data Services, which licenses the use of the Straits Times Index in partnership with the Singapore Exchange and FTSE-Russell Ltd; financial data company ShareInvestor; the two English stations of SPH Radio - Kiss92 and ONE FM 91.3 and SPH Golf (including SPH Pacom Ltd). 


The Chinese Media group publishes three Chinese newspapers in print and digital format - Lianhe Zaobao, Lianhe Wanbao and Shin Min Daily News; four student weeklies - zbCOMMA, Thumbs Up, Thumbs Up Junior and Thumbs Up Little Junior, and ZBBZ Newsgazine. It also operates SPH Radio's Chinese radio station, UFM100.3, and Focus Publishing, which produces a range of books and magazines including U-Weekly.


SPH's other new media initiatives include AsiaOne, Stomp, and SPH Razor. 

On an average day, 2.5 million* individuals or 59 per cent of people above 15 years old, read one of SPH's news publications in print copies or one of our digital platforms. 
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SPH Magazines, SPH's wholly-owned subsidiary, publishes and produces more than 100 magazine titles and has various online sites, like, and in Singapore and the region, covering a broad range of interests from lifestyle to information technology. It has also invested in digital newsstand Magzter.

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