Sofia, June 13, AZERTAC
An opening ceremony of the 6th News Agencies World Congress (NAWC) has today been held in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Organized by Bulgarian BTA news agency, the Congress was held under the motto “The Future of News”.
Participants in the event included heads and representatives of nearly 200 leading news agencies from 100 countries, including international media experts.
In his opening remarks, Director General of the Bulgarian BTA News Agency Maxim Minchev highlighted the history of the News Agencies World Congress, as well as issues on the agenda.
He said that news journalism is one of the last bastions of real and double-checked news, and it needs sources of inspiration as much as sources of financing.
Maxim Minchev hailed the work done by AZERTAC Chairman of the Board, President of the News Agencies World Congress Aslan Aslanov during the agency’s presidency of the 5th Congress for the years 2016-2019, and expressed his gratitude to him.
Addressing the event, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev underlined the importance of NAWC, describing the Congress as a platform to discuss the ongoing trends, and address challenges facing the news agencies.
He said that the motto of the forum, “The Future of News”, is actually about the future of mankind. "Digitalization has already changed our perception of the world because information is in abundant supply but in reality it is the most scarce commodity," the President said.
CEO of UK’s Press Association (PA) Clive Marshall said that news agencies are charged with the difficult task of protecting legitimate news by remaining impartial. “In recent years, challenges faced by news agencies have further increased due to declines in newspaper sales and an increased appetite for social media,” he said.
Addressing the event, AZERTAC Chairman of the Board, NAWC President Aslan Aslanov said:
“The 5th News Agencies World Congress was organized by AZERTAG and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in Baku about three years ago, in November 2016. The participation of President Ilham Aliyev in the opening ceremony of the Congress, his comprehensive speech and the subsequent meeting with a group of participants are still remembered as an indicator of the attention and importance the Azerbaijani state attaches to the media. In the meeting held in such a pleasant atmosphere, we discussed the challenges of our time and shared our views. We touched upon such pressing topics as social media, innovations and multimedia journalism, which have already become part and parcel of the daily life of our agencies. In fact, three years is a short period in history, but modern technologies rapidly changed over the course of these years, which has had an impact on our activity and caused journalism as a whole to change.
In the three years of the chairmanship of AZERTAC in the organization, we, together with members of the Council, made efforts to transform the Congress into a stronger, more important and useful organization for every agency. Without going into detail, I will only say that one of the steps we took was to improve the Charter. This issue will probably be on the agenda in the future too. Our goal is to preserve the status of agencies as the most reliable source of news and to confirm with practical activity that they are an objective and impartial source of information.
You probably remember that during the Baku Congress we talked in detail about the use of multimedia journalism. We are witnessing how agencies have increased the amount of visual news over the three years. Even the smallest agencies were able to create their video news service. This is an indicator of the fact that we are keeping up with the times and promptly react to modern-day challenges.
Mobile technologies and social networks are the main directions that create trends in the field of information. It is these two phenomena that determine our development. Currently, the expansion of social networks and online media has put forward such a new global challenge as fake news. Agencies have already begun serious work in this direction. The recent events in St. Petersburg, Baku, Tirana, the Hanoi meeting of the OANA Executive Committee, the Berlin Conference of EANA widely discussed the agencies' fight against fake news, put forward proposals and specific projects regarding what measures we can take. We can already see that agencies are gradually creating effective mechanisms to prevent or expose fake news. I am confident that these methods will continue to be improved and gradually become accessible to all. At one time, when social media appeared on the agenda, we continuously looked for ways out and found them. We trained specialists dealing with these issues and set up appropriate units within our agencies. I am sure that we will achieve the desired results in the fight against fake news this time round.
Everyone is concerned about the future of news today. Someone may be optimistic in this matter, others may be pessimistic. I personally believe that the future of news is in the hands of news agencies, i.e. in our own hands. So the themes of the current Congress will be built around the discussion of the prospects for agencies, taking into account the dictates of the times. All the above factors will be in the spotlight of our discussions. The global goal of the Congress is precisely to ensure that agencies located anywhere in the world are familiarized with innovations, as well as accumulated experience in this area. The exchange of experience is now very important. It is thanks to this that the methods of working with social media have spread widely, and today we can all use them. Therefore, by sharing knowledge and experience, all of us can help ensure that information serves peace and tranquility on the planet. Knowledge is improved and polished when it is shared.
The News Agencies World Congress is an organization uniting the most reliable producers of news. While maintaining this position, we must further strengthen it and, in the current complex information environment, inform the media market participants that we are reliable partners. We are saying that as a result of the emergence of social networks and online media, the number of information sources has increased and the use of traditional journalism information has been reduced. What is the way out of this situation? There is already a generally accepted and time-proved answer to this question: we should not ignore the news spread in social media, it is necessary to filter it and communicate it to our audiences. Consumers need verified and updated news. Thus, we will offer such a valuable service as protection against the threat posed by fake news. Today we will get acquainted with interesting thoughts and experience on these issues.
Today, chairmanship in the News Agencies World Congress is moving from AZERTAC to BTA. I am sure that together we will continue the work we started and create a reliable guarantee for the future of news.”
The impact of fake news on democracy was central in the remarks of Bulgarian Culture Minister Boil Banov. "You are the people who fight for our freedom and we rely on you," said the Culture Minister addressing the participants in the congress.
Other speakers at the event, including President of the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA) Peter Kropsch highlighted the achievements in the field of media, the challenges the media faces, and the ways how to address them.
The Congress continued with a panel session on “Ownership Models of News Agencies”.
1st News Agencies World Congress was held in Moscow on September 24-25, 2004 on the initiative of the Russian News Agency TASS.
The 5th News Agencies World Congress was held in Baku, Azerbaijan on November 15-18, 2016 under the title “New Challenges for News Agencies”. The Congress was co-organized by the Azerbaijan State News Agency (AZERTAC) and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
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