Media Professionals and Doctors: Combating the “Infodemic” is a priority during the “Corona” Pandemic

24 Feb 2021


Jordan Media Institute (JMI) - Amman

Media professionals and doctors who participated in the Arab Forum of Science Media and Communication agreed that combating false and misleading information is a priority in light of the Corona pandemic, as false information has negative effects on the efforts to combat the virus and contain its rapid spread. 

During the discussion entitled “Corona and the Media: An Infodemic during a Pandemic”, Professor Najwa Khuri-Bulos said that the seriousness of the infodemic during the Corona” pandemic may be equal to the severity of the disease itself and required serious treatment. Providing the correct information is the best way to refute false and misleading information, she added. 

Khuri-Bulos is a specialized professor of infectious and childhood diseases at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Jordan and a consultant to the Center for Security and Crisis Management. According to her, the rapid transmission of the virus around the world and the initial lack of much information about it, contributed to the spread of a lot of false information. Social media sites also formed platforms through which non-specialists were able to express their views on medical issues.

Therefore, Khuri-Bulos called for journalists and media professionals to prevent non-specialists from speaking to the public through the media. She stressed the need to refer to reliable medical sources and to verify circulating information through verification platforms. 

Mr. Taha Darwish, Managing Editor of the Jordanian Media Credibility Monitor “AKEED” which operates under the JMI, reviewed the monitor’s role in verifying the authenticity of news and circulating information, in addition to monitoring rumors and preparing monthly and annual reports about them. 

Darwish stressed the importance of credibility in journalistic practices, pointing to the role of effective partnership between the media, doctors and specialists in combating the infodemic, which was confirmed by Dr. Mohammed Hajjiri, a consultant cardiologist.

During the session, moderated by JMI graduate Anoud Al-Zoubi, Dr. Hajjiri suggested that doctors and specialists dedicate their time and knowledge to cooperate with the media to ensure accurate medical information reaches the public. He encouraged doctors and scientists to reach their audience in a more effective way through social media platforms. 

On the other hand, Nadia Bilbassy, Al Arabiya’s Washington Bureau Chief, referred to a number of violations that the Corona pandemic witnessed in regards to the media sector. This included some officials concealing information, not investigating thoroughly and not adhering to medical sources of information, in addition to endangering the lives of journalists as well as not adhering to prevention measures to contain the spread of the virus. 

Ethar Al-Azem, a JMI graduate who is now a journalist specialized in scientific affairs, presented the data of the spread of false information compared to the spread of the virus, warning that social media platforms that are based on open communication, especially Facebook, were the most common environments in which fake news circulated. Al-Azem called for journalists to rely on data when speaking about the impact of the infodemic and how it has affected humanity just as the pandemic itself has. 

The four-day virtual forum discussed topics related to building capacities and facing challenges. Professionals and specialists in the fields of media and scientific communication of all spectrums participated, as well as researchers and scientists of technology, science, engineering, mathematics and medicine. 

A group of governmental and private institutions concerned with media and scientific communication also participated in the forum, as well as university students in the fields of media, journalism and science including JMI students.

More than 50 professionals spoke at the forum during more than 30 discussion sessions, in the presence of more than 400 participants.