At the General Assembly (GA) Marseille 2023 we hosted 24 participants from 9 countries. We discussed FEJS matters and elected the new Executive Board, Secretariat, and locations for 2024 events. This year’s topic was “Trick or Truth: Fact check vs. Fake news”, so the emphasis was on factchecking and misinformation. We hosted experts on this topic from the international media sphere.
Marseille – warm and sunny French city
On Sunday, our first day, we firstly got to know each other a little bit. There were many new participants at this GA! Then we got a tour of Marseille, the second biggest city in France, by our GA organisers Gaël Camba and Marie Vincent.
It was a lovely walk through the sunny city – in Marseille it is warmer than in all the countries we came from. We saw the colourful streets full of graffiti, a few churches, Place d’Armes and had lunch on the beach. We finished the day watching the sunset on Basilica of Notre-Dame of la Garde, which is the highest point of the city.
Factchecking is important, but so is your mental health
On Monday we hosted a disinformation reporter and TV presenter at Euronews Sophia Khatsenkova. She showed the participants examples of misleading posts on social media and how she factchecked them. In her work, she researches videos and photos taken out of context, used to spread opinions on current topics like the conflict between Palestine and Israel. We asked her about maintaining good mental health when doing this job and one of her tips was: “If you are going to watch a shocking video, first watch it without sound – it’s worse than the image.”
Later the Deputy Director for Europe at NBC News and already a great friend of FEJS Andy Eckardt talked about factchecking in journalism from a larger perspective of such a large organization as NBC News. He also mentioned the importance of maintaining good mental health. He advised the participants that as journalists they must remind themselves it is just a job: “Working with topics that leave you in distress is hard but try to leave it at work and know it is not your life”. He also presented the NBCU Academy which is an education program for developing skills in journalism.
TV journalist – a one man band
On Tuesday we visited the BFMTV Marseille Provence. The participants found it very interesting that journalists there make entire news reports on their own; they film with iPhones. We visited the newsroom, the studio, and the control room.
Workshops show there are many free tools for journalists
We had a workshop with Elodie Martinez from the French press agency AFP. She has been working there since 2008, last year she joined the AFP headquarters in Paris to develop digital investigation training worldwide. She presented the AFP Digital Courses that are available worldwide and free to train on factchecking. We also tried to use the factchecking tools like reverse image search to check some images posted online. Some tools to check photos are TinEye and Google Lens. She also showed us InVID WeVerify which can be used to check videos. We looked at options of searching on search engines and X.
- Useful tools: https://factcheck.afp.com/list-advanced-search-tips
- Short video tips: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLo9T0OZu4qjk7MVqK7VxTFoiI5LTM4FYF
We also hosted Caroline Radnofsky, the Supervising Reporter for Social Newsgathering at NBC News based in London. She showed us how to use Open-Source Intelligence as a tool to factcheck reporting. She emphasized that in factchecking it is important to trace your information, find how the material got to you and who the original source is. She suggested asking people for help, when they can know something you will be searching for a long time. For example, if you know someone in Tokyo, they can tell you the street on the video is really there.
Our new member Richard Brandt held a presentation on COPE Training that he is working on at TU Dortmund University. It includes new courses for journalists that FEJS members can try and provide feedback to its creators.
FEJS stuff – we know where the next AC will take place!
FEJS General Assemblies are intended for discussions on internal matters of our organization. This time we had a lot of new participants, so on the first day, we had a “FEJS for beginners” presentation. Neža, Vlad and Robert explained how FEJS is structured to new participants. They learned how they can become members, how they can form a satellite in their own country and what FEJS positions they can run for.
On Monday we discussed FEJS matters in groups – what we could improve regarding finances, networking, online presence, and internal communication. On the last day the groups presented their ideas to others.
On Tuesday we held the FEJS elections. We elected the new Executive Board: Robert Van Loon, Nienke Wensveen, Richard Brandt, Greta-Maria Lepo, and Patrick Klapetz. The new Secretariat will be the Netherlands team.
We also elected the locations of the 2024 Annual Congress (AC) and General Assembly (GA). In April we will meet at the AC in Helsinki, Finland, and in the fall at the GA in Dortmund, Germany.