Media experts have shared their observations and insights on countering hate speech, and promoting media ethics and safety of journalists during a workshop of South Asian media professionals.

Altogether 31 media professionals from Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka participated in the inaugural session virtually held yesterday.

Sally-Ann Wilson, CEO of Public Media Alliance, spoke about the vital, often life-saving role public media played in conflict by creating a shared space for facts and balance and cutting through the mis- and disinformation that pop up during conflict situations.

She also stressed the need for the media to maintain independence to establish credibility among the public.

Hezekiel Dlamini, Advisor for Communication and Information for South Asia for UNESCO's New Delhi office, praised the journalists in South Asia for being on the frontlines of the COV- ID-19 pandemic and exposing themselves to infection to bring true and accurate stories.

He also said that the present workshop was highly relevant because it would help teach the participating reporters the causes of conflict and hate and how to diffuse the situation.

Bal Krishna Basnet, chairperson of Press Council Nepal, hoped that the workshop would help address the latest dimensions of media including the challenges posed by social media and expressed PCN's commitment to support it in any necessary way.

Sadia Jamil, AMIC Country Representative of UAE, shed light on how digital technologies were impacting peace and conflict reporting and said that such technologies could either mitigate or escalate conflict.

"Online spaces have become a haven for mistruths and it is the responsibility of journalists to break through the noise of misinformation and deliver news to foster peace-building," Jamil added.

Laxman Datt Pant, chairperson of Media Action Nepal, expressed concern that the media in Nepal and across South Asia was losing credibility because media institutions were putting business interests before journalism and journalists were aligning themselves with political interests.

He also emphasised the need to draft up-to-date codes of conduct to support freedom of expression and journalists' safety during conflicts.

A version of this article appears in the print on September 29 2021, of The Himalayan Times.