OANA Executive Board’s 44th meeting wraps up

Hanoi, April 19 (VNA) - The 44th Executive Board Meeting of the Organisation of Asia-Pacific News Agencies (OANA) with the theme of “For a professional and innovative journalism” wrapped up in Hanoi on April 19 afternoon after one day of sitting.

Hosted by the Vietnam News Agency (VNA), the meeting focused on three main contents, including strategies of news agencies in response to changes in information use behaviours which focus on video clips and the YouToube platform; fake news and fact-checking; and regaining trust for mainstream news.

This year’s event saw the attendance of about 40 international delegates who are leaders and representatives of the Executive Board’s member news agencies and invited OANA members, including influential news agencies in the world - Azertac (Azerbaijan), TASS (Russia), Xinhua (China), Kyodo News (Japan), Yonhap (the Republic of Korea), AAP (Australia).

Addressing the first session, OANA President Aslan Aslanov said: “The OANA Executive Board Meetings serve as a platform for discussing current affairs and ways of developing the organization and making decisions. We also exchange views on various topics to address the challenges facing news agencies. The agenda of today’s meeting features interesting issues such as video content, fake news, news agencies as a reliable news source.

According to the OANA President, the problem of fake news is the most pressing issue today as it plagues news agencies the most. All OANA member agencies boast long years of history and experience, some even are almost hundred years old. The principles of identifying and fact-checking news before publishing have earned OANA news agencies high confidence. That's why OANA is truly a team of the most reliable news producers.

“Therefore, as long as there are news agencies and the principles of journalism live, the society can feel safe, because although fake news is widespread, we are capable of retaliating with accurate and reliable news. From this point of view, OANA is a very valuable and trusted organization with rich experience,” he said.

Another point is related to news agencies’ daily business which is increasingly dependent on technology, Aslanov said, adding that the application of innovations is crucial to gaining an audience and maintaining efficient exchange of information with partner media organizations.

At the session, the Executive Board discussed and endorsed amendments to the OANA Statute, which were drafted and proposed by the working group comprising of the current, previous and next president-agencies, which are AZERTAG, TASS and Yonhap. This working group was also supposed to draft proposals to the General Assembly regarding the criteria for membership.

The Executive Board agreed that the Secretary General would collect all the decisions made to the Statute, put them together and distribute among the Board members within the next 2 weeks, circulate the amendment proposals to all the OANA members by May 7 at the latest.

In the afternoon session, the delegates deliberated issues facing news agencies and measures to enhance the efficiency of news agencies in the digital era.

VNA Deputy General Director Le Quoc Minh held that to regain the audience’s trust in mainstream news, it is necessary to come back to the core values of journalism, professionalism, balance and multi-dimension. Journalists need to verify information carefully, especially amidst spreading fake news, improve the quality of their products, enhance professional ethics, master skills to use new technologies in the working process.

Minh said newsrooms and individual journalists in Vietnam wanted to apply various tools or actions into their working process to improve the quality of their stories and draw users away from fake news. While producing verified news articles in various languages, the VNA has been focused on analysis and in-depth stories, on constructive and solutions journalism.

The VNA Deputy General Director concluded that news publishers had to maintain a sustainable trust with their clients and end-users, making them come back to mainstream journalism, and even pay for high quality content. To that end, each agency and each journalist must try their best to bring the best service to the citizens, not only to sell a story or a newspaper.

Lee Dong-min, a representative of the Yonhap News Agency, said the Republic of Korea’s media outlets are strengthening their fact-checking mechanisms to prevent damage from spreading fake news and allow the readers to decide what the facts are when there are conflicting versions of stories.

She spoke about Yonhap’s fact-check team, which was officially launched in April 2018 as part of the newsroom and its video fact-check service named "Weekly Fact Check" to deal with fake news on YouTube. Yonhap has tried to monitor the spread of false news on the Internet and distorted articles in the media, Lee said.

At the closing ceremony, the Executive Board announced the OANA Award for Excellence in News Agency Quality, which is designed to further experience exchange between OANA members and to improve the quality of making news.

Accordingly, the Vietnam News Agency and Xinhua News Agency (China) shared the first prize for Chatbot app on e-newspaper VietnamPlus and AI Media Brain project, respectively.

TASS news agency of Russia won the second prize with Astronauts database project and the Azertac State News Agency of Azerbaijan secured the third prize for its knowledge portal for children Portal.azertag.az.

The OANA was established on December 22, 1961 as an initiative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). It aims to facilitate information dissemination and exchange between news agencies in Asia-Pacific – a dynamic region that makes up more than half of the global population. 

The OANA members, including many major agencies, are responsible for two-thirds of information circulated throughout the world. Everyday, they publish around 200 news stories, photos and video clips on the OANA website at http://www.oananews.org/.

The annual OANA Executive Board Meeting is held rotationally by Executive Board members. It offers a chance for delegates to share experience in organisation and development of news agencies, get updated on global press development trends, and discuss measures to consolidate cooperation between the agencies. 

Since joining the OANA in 1969, the VNA has proven itself as one of the active members of the organisation. The agency was elected to the OANA Executive Board for two consecutive terms, with each lasting for three years. The VNA had hosted the OANA Executive Board Meetings in 1989, 1999 and 2005, actively contributing to completing the organisation’s targets.-VNA

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