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9th ASEF Editors' Roundtable (ASEFERT9)

Exploring the Battlefronts of 'Fake News': A Tripartite Approach to the Fight Against Misinformation

Project Period: Contact: Department: Programme: Theme:
15-16 October 2018 Gaffar ABDUL Communications Department ASEF Editors' Roundtable Media

Brussels, Belgium

See:   Programme      Agenda      Moderators      Participants      Venue  

Misinformation is an age-old concept that has been around for as long as news itself. Having assumed various forms over the course of history - from propaganda campaigns to spin doctoring - it has once again been cast into the international spotlight, brandishing a new title: 'fake news'.

Held in conjunction with the 12th ASEM Summit (ASEM12), the 9th ASEF Editors' Roundtable (ASEFERT9) is the 2018 edition of a 2-day biennial forum aimed at promoting dialogue, strengthening ties and cross-continental cooperation between 20-30 news editors from across Asia and Europe.

In recognising the complexities of the issue and the necessity of a comprehensive multi-stakeholder approach, ASEFERT9 will include representatives from news media, policy making, tech companies and civil society to create a robust discussion and provide for diversity of opinion.

The intended outcome of the 2-day forum is a detailed report on how 'fake news' is being fought from a tri-sectorial approach in individual countries across Asia and Europe. Through the resulting discussions, a series of country reports as well as an agreement on key principles to further action will be compiled and published for online distribution and submitted to the ASEM governments.


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Funded by the European Union

Project Updates

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    Participants of the 9th ASEF Editors' Roundtable (ASEFERT9), held in Brussels, Belgium on 15-16 October 2018, agreed that the threat of 'fake news' is best handled according to sociocultural contexts, among other considerations. This was the main finding of the roundtable, which consisted of various stakeholders, each with a vested interest on the topic.

    Among the participants were: news editors and senior journalists from 17 countries in Asia & Europe; 5 policy makers from national and regional governments; 2 representatives form civil society organisations; and representatives from Google and Mozilla, representing the private sector.

    In his opening address, ASEF's Executive Director Ambassador Karsten WARNECKE affirmed the desire to collaborate across sectors, saying, "This multi-stakeholder approach reflects our belief in the power of collaboration in addressing global issues."

    Coming at a time of significant governmental elections in Asia and Europe, the event naturally took on a slight political spin, with each participant offering their perspective on the causes and consequences of 'fake news'. Among the issues brought up was the use of 'fake news' legislation in political prosecution and a decline in trust in the media.

    Indeed, the presence of the various stakeholder groups resulted in a diversity of opinions. 'Fake news' was at once considered from the social, political and technological viewpoints, while a multitude of solutions were offered: from fact-checking initiatives to 'fake news' legislation and the use of AI.

    Among the valuable contributions provided were those from veterans of the media industry: Mr Eric WISHART, former Editor-in-Chief at AFP, and Mr Jochen SPANGENBERG, Innovation Manager at Deutsche Welle.

    Policy makers including Mr Charles CHONG, Chair of Singapore's Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods, and Ms Claire BURY, Deputy Director-General at the European Commission's DG CONNECT, shared examples of their respective undertakings.

    Civil society too, had its say, through the example of the Lie Detectors initiative. Founded by Ms Juliane VON REPPERT-BISMARCK, Lie Detectors conducts classroom sessions, using accessible and non-political and material to introduce media literacy and source verification to schoolchildren. The initiative employs working journalists and leverages children's intuitive understanding of clickbait material to stimulate critical thinking.

    With the myriad perspectives presented, arriving at a common conclusion was deemed unfeasible. However, it was agreed that exposure to those very perspectives was in itself highly beneficial in gaining a nuanced understanding of the topic.

    It was thus highlighted that the topic of fake news needs to be understood through different societal and contextual lenses, and that specialised solutions need to be found for each situation.



    Organised as an official side event of the 12th ASEM Summit (ASEM12), the 9th ASEF Editors' Roundtable (ASEFERT9) is the 2018 edition of the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)'s long-running series bringing together editors and senior journalists from the 51 Partner countries of the ASEM Process. The series creates exchange and networking opportunities while focusing on current issues in Asia-Europe relations.

    The event will see continuity in the form of the 12th ASEF Journalists' Seminar (ASEFJS12), a gathering of young journalists around the topic of 'Media Trust & Misinformation in the Digital Age'. ASEFJS12 will take place on 13-14 December 2019 in Madrid, Spain.

  • by Gaffar ABDUL

    This opinion piece first appeared on, the guest blog of EURACTIV.

    'Fake news', 'misinformation', 'online falsehoods' – call it what you may, but let us not be mistaken – this is not a recent phenomenon. Neither is it truly a new problem, though arguably it has gained new relevance in today's information society, largely due to the rise of social media.

    Indeed, fake news has existed in one form or another since antiquity. Propaganda campaigns, 'spinning' and hoaxes can all be considered forms of disinformation, even if its exact definition is debatable. The ambiguity surrounding the term 'fake news' is the first obstacle to what makes it so hard to tackle.

    The term means different things to different people. For example, a politically polarised society can create segments of population that adhere to such differing realities that the word 'fake' itself can end up being subjective.

    In 2016, the phrase 'fake news' was mainly used to describe a social media phenomenon. Since then, it has rapidly evolved into a journalistic cliché, a political slur and, in some places, deemed a matter of national security.

    That is why the Asia-Europe Foundation prefers to enclose the term 'fake news' between inverted commas. Before a commonly agreed definition is settled upon, it is more prudent to declare that our understanding of the term is limited.

    This limited understanding, however, can be expanded upon through exposure to a diversity of perspectives. In recognising the complexities of the issue, it is thus necessary to encourage a comprehensive multi-stakeholder approach, featuring, for example, voices from news media, policy making, media technology companies and civil society to create a robust discussion.

    Many governments have enacted legislation to tackle 'fake news', while news organisations have been scrambling to establish fact-checking desks and self-regulate – all in an effort to stay credible and independent. Indeed, BBC chief Tony Hall recently warned that the misuse of the term fake news "threatens to damage confidence in journalism".

    Civil society too has jumped in with efforts to promote news literacy on all levels, as is the case with Lie Detectors' classroom sessions, which promote critical thinking. Media technology companies are turning to tech-based solutions such as AI, while adopting new codes of conduct to counter election meddling.

    Given the array of different measures and the depth to which 'fake news' affects society on all levels, it is clear that any serious effort to tackle the issue must be a coordinated one, incorporating perspectives from the different pillars of society.

    This is a principle that underlines the theme of Asia-Europe Foundation's 9th ASEF Editors' Roundtable, as we seek to bring together news editors, policy makers and media technology companies from across Asia and Europe to share experiences on the topic and exchange ideas on how it is being tackled.

    Furthermore, the issue of fake news has seen worldwide prominence in recent years due to its cross-national implications. With the global press and rampant social media all contributing to a constant barrage of information in today's world, fake news can no longer be treated as a national issue or tackled as such.

    International conferences and multilateral fora are therefore prime opportunities for the exchange of ideas. The Brazil-EU International Seminar on Fake News: Experiences and Challenges is a notable example of such an international approach to the dialogue on fake news.

    Indeed, the final report of the EU's High-Level Expert Group on Fake News advocates for cross-border research into the scale and impact of disinformation. The report, entitled "A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Disinformation", also calls for a collaborative effort that involves all relevant stakeholders.

    Through case studies and in-depth examples on the various manifestations of 'fake news' and the variety of approaches that are being adopted, our understanding of the topic can be enhanced, and our approaches strengthened. As a global issue, 'fake news' deserves a global approach.

  • Agenda

    Published on 05 Oct 2018


    Keynote Address 1: The Challenges Posed by Deliberate Online Falsehoods from the Perspective of a Modern City State

    by Mr Charles CHONG
    Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Singapore



    What is 'fake news' exactly? Is it a recent phenomenon or an age-old quandary? Our moderator Dr Fraser Cameron introduces the topic and initiates proceedings for the 2-day roundtable.


    Session 1: The Scourge of 'Fake News'
    Moderator: Dr Fraser CAMERON

    How has 'fake news' affected the fabric of our societies, and why is it so relevant today? Is 'fake news' a social, technological or political issue? We examine the multiple facets of 'fake news' and disinformation.


    Session 2: The Political Economy of 'Fake News'
    Moderator: Ms Victoria MAIN

    What are the power relations that constitute the communication of 'fake news' through social and mass media? How and by whom are they exercised? Our editors discuss examples across Asia and Europe.


    Keynote Address 2: The EU & Fake News
    by Ms Claire BURY
    Deputy Director-General, DG CONNECT, European Commission


    Session 3: Examining Current Approaches to 'Fake News'
    Moderator: Dr Fraser CAMERON

    From new legislation to technology companies' initiatives and beyond, we examine the various approaches being taken in Asia and Europe.


    Session 4: Formulating Solutions
    led by Mr Christophe LECLERQ
    Founder, EURACTIV

    with a wrap-up by Dr Fraser CAMERON and Ms Victoria MAIN


    The roundtable concludes with a joint recommendation.

  • Programme

    Published on 05 Oct 2018

    Monday 15 October 2018


    Press Club Brussels | Rue Froissart 95, 1000 Brussels


    Welcome Remarks
    by Mr Maroun LABAKI
    President, Press Club Brussels

    Opening Remarks
    by Ambassador Karsten WARNECKE
    Executive Director, Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)


    Keynote Address 1
    by Mr Charles CHONG
    Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Singapore


    Lunch Reception




    Session 1: The Scourge of 'Fake News'


    Networking Coffee Break


    Session 2: The Political Economy of 'Fake News'


    End of Day 1


    L'OBJECTIF RESTAURANT | Hotel NH Brussels EU Berlaymont, Boulevard Charlemagne - Karel de Grotelaan, 11-19, 1000 Brussels

    Tuesday 16 October 2018


    Keynote Address 2
    by Mrs Claire BURY
    Deputy Director-General, DG CONNECT, European Commission


    Session 3: Examining Current Approaches to 'Fake News'


    Networking Coffee Break


    Session 4: Formulating Solutions


    Exploring ASEM Sustainable Connectivity: the ASEM Sustainable Connectivity Portal
    Competence Centre on Composite Indicators and Scoreboards, European Commission


    Lunch Reception


    Public Event: Maintaining Truth & Trust in Media in the Digital Age


    End of Event

  • Moderators

    Published on 15 Sep 2018


    Dr Fraser CAMERON
    Director, EU-Asia Centre

    Fraser Cameron is Director of the EU-Asia Centre in Brussels, a think tank seeking to promote closer relations between the EU and Asia. He is a former European Commission advisor and well-known policy analyst and commentator on EU and international affairs.

    Photo - Victoria MAIN

    Ms Victoria MAIN
    CEO, Cambre Associates

    Victoria Main is CEO at Cambre Associates, an advocacy and communications consultancy in Brussels. Victoria began her career as a journalist, most recently with Reuters in London, but also in Brussels, Hong Kong, Milan, Paris and Wellington. She holds French and New Zealand nationality. She is a policy communications expert with an international mindset and a far-reaching network  in Brussels and beyond. Brussels is a policy town, so it’s unusual for someone with a journalism and communications background to head a consultancy.

  • Participants

    Published on 14 Sep 2018



    Photo - Charles CHONG 100

    Mr Charles CHONG
    Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Singapore

    Photo - Giles PORTMAN 100

    Mr Giles PORTMAN
    Head of East Stratcom Task Force, EEAS (EU)

    Photo - Astik SINHA 100

    Mr Astik SINHA
    Head of Policy and Special Projects, Office of the Chairman, Indian Parliamentary IT Committee

    Photo - Paolo CESARINI 100

    Mr Paolo CESARINI
    Head of Unit Media Convergence and Social Media, DG CONNECT (EU)

    Photo - Zaffar ABBAS 100

    Mr Zaffar ABBAS
    Editor, DAWN Media Group (Pakistan)

    Photo - Juliane VON REPPERT-BISMARCK 100

    Founder & Director, Lie Detectors

    Photo - Cod SATRUSAYANG 100

    Managing Editor, Asia News Network

    Photo - Iain MARTIN 100

    Mr Iain MARTIN
    Asia Editor, Storyful

    Photo - Jacque MANABAT 100

    Ms Jacque MANABAT
    Senior Multimedia Journalist, ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation (Philippines)

    Photo - Jochen Spangenberg 100

    Innovation Manager, Deutsche Welle

    Photo - Shaili CHOPRA 100

    Ms Shaili CHOPRA
    Founder, SheThePeople.TV (India)

    Photo - Christophe LECLERCQ 100

    Mr Christophe LECLERCQ
    Founder, EURACTIV

    Photo - Martin VENGADESAN 100

    Mr Martin VENGADESAN
    News Editor, The Star Media Group (Malaysia)

    Photo - David DIEUDONNE 100

    Mr David DIEUDONNÉ
    Head of News Lab, Google

    Photo - Zakir HUSSAIN 100

    Mr Zakir HUSSAIN
    Foreign Editor, The Straits Times (Singapore)

    Photo - Raegan MacDONALD  100

    Ms Raegan MacDONALD
    Head of EU Public Policy, Mozilla Foundation

    Photo - Mariia BALIABINA 100

    Ms Mariya BALYABINA
    Political Analyst, Sputnik Radio (Russian Federation)

    Photo - Aidan WHITE 100

    Mr Aidan WHITE
    Founder & President, Ethical Journalism Network

    Photo - Van TRAN 100

    Ms Van TRAN
    Deputy Head of Social/Political Desk, Viet Nam News

    Photo - Marius TITA 100

    Dr Marius TIțA
    Editor-in-Chief, Radio Romania International

    Photo - LI Yang 100

    Mr LI Yang
    Opinion Department Editor, China Daily

    Photo - Eric WISHART 100

    Mr Eric WISHART
    Head of Special Projects, AFP

    Photo - Assel SATUBALDINA 100

    Senior Reporter, The Astana Times (Kazakhstan)

    Photo - Joachim CIECIERSKI 100

    Mr Joachim CIECIERSKI
    Journalist, Polish Radio

    Photo - Thanchanok Micky Jongyotying 100

    Senior International News Editor, Spring News TV (Thailand)

    Photo - Giselle NATH 100

    Ms Giselle NATH
    Foreign Reporter, De Standaard (Belgium)



    rsz asefert9

    Ms Renate SCHROEDER
    Director, European Federation of Journalists



    Photo - Antonio SCALA 100

    Mr Antonio SCALA
    Editor, Primapress (Italy)

  • Venue

    Published on 13 Sep 2018

    Press Club Map
    Click map to navigate.

    Press Club Brussels Europe
    Rue Froissart 95
    1000 Brussels

  • ASEFERT9 Public Event Spotlight V2 - Copy

    Maintaining Truth & Trust in Media in the Digital Age
    Moderator: Dr Fraser CAMERON

    Social Media has disrupted industries all over the world, from communications down to operations. The Media Industry is one of the most affected by this technological upheaval. Is the role of the gatekeeper gone?

    How are media companies in Asia and Europe coping with the change in news consumption? What is being done by tech companies and news organisations to ensure the accurate and responsible distribution of information? Find out more from our cross-continental panel of experts.


    Opening Address by Mr Christophe LECLERQ | Founder, EURACTIV

    Mr Cod SATRUSAYANG | Managing Editor, Asia News Network

    Ms Juliane VON REPPERT-BISMARCK | Founder & Director, Lie Detectors

    Mr Astik SINHA | Head of Policy & Special Projects, Office of the Chairman, Indian Parliamentary IT Committee

    Mr Aidan WHITE | Founder & President, Ethical Journalism Network

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