From Russia without love part three

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‘At least I shouldn’t get any foreign interference with this story. But things may change in future…’

Worrying details have just emerged of how the Ukrainian war has spurred a big growth in computer-generated fake news which is confronting Government agencies in Western countries, so here our Editor Phil Parry looks at the importance of identifying factual information in publications, and how we too on The Eye have been targeted.

Earlier he described how he was assisted in breaking into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and made clear that the ‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.

He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Wales TV Current Affairs series, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off

Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of ‘history’ is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.

‘SHOW YOURSELF AND TELL ME WHY YOU’RE PUMPING OUT FAKE NEWS!’

He has disclosed as well why investigative journalism is needed now more than ever although others have different opinions, how the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown played havoc with media schedules, and the importance of the hugely lower average age of some political leaders compared with when he started reporting.

 

Everyone, I would suggest, as an audience member or as a journalist like me working on whatever the publication (and that includes television or radio, because news is ‘published’ there), has a role in identifying what is and what is not TRUE.

This is, though, becoming ever-harder, and information now which has come out of France and elsewhere shows just how difficult it is.

It’s almost as alarming as the death in a Russian jail of Alexei Navalny.

The media is kept an eye on in Russia – and so is The Eye

Earlier this month Viginum, the French foreign-disinformation watchdog, announced it had detected preparations for a large disinformation campaign in France, Germany, Poland and other European countries, tied in part to the second anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the elections to the European Parliament in June.

Russia has been at the forefront of internet disinformation techniques at least since 2014, when it pioneered the use of bot farms to spread fake news about its invasion of Crimea.

Viginum said it had uncovered a Russian network of 193 websites which it codenames ‘Portal Kombat’.

Most of these sites, such as topnews.uz.ua, were created years ago and many were left dormant. But over 50 of them, such as news-odessa.ru and pravda-en.com, have been created since 2022.

French authorities think they are ready to be activated aggressively as part of what one official calls a “massive” wave of Russian disinformation.

They said the content was “deceptive or false”

Viginum says it watched the sites between September and December and have concluded that they do not themselves generate news stories, but are designed to spread “deceptive or false” content about the war in Ukraine, both on websites and via social media.

The underlying objective it would seem, is to undermine support for Ukraine in Europe, and according to the French authorities, the network is controlled by a single Russian organisation.

We too are a target of Russian hackers

We on The Eye have been targeted by Russian hackers already.

The site always used to get a couple of ‘allow requests’ from e-mail addresses with the .ru (Russia) ending, but recently this increased massively, and at one point there were four or five A DAY!

On the one hand it seems to show that an independent media in largely free democratic countries is getting under the skin of Mr Putin, which is a good thing.

The eyes have it – and journalists need to watch out!

On the other it shows just how vigilant we all need to be.

News should be TRUSTED..!

 

The memories of Phil’s astonishing decades-long award-winning career in journalism (during which foreign interference was rare) as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!
‘BUY MY BOOK!’

 

Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.

Tomorrow – how once again Wales’ biggest broadcaster has turned to a controversial Welsh sporting figure as an ‘expert’, without giving her problematic past.