12 September 2020
Khaleej Times Sept 12 2020

Think tanks and media outfits around the world should work harder together to "cut through the noise of misinformation" in the time of Covid-19, global experts have said in a recent virtual symposium hosted by an Abu Dhabi research centre.

Organised by Trends Research and Advisory, the e-conference highlighted the convergence between think-tank and media functions during the pandemic, and experts agreed that both sectors "must regularly meet to exchange ideas". Michael Holtzman, president of SEC Newgate in the US, said that never before has the media and think-tanks' value been clearer than during this pandemic. "It is the first and most obvious opportunity to demonstrate their responsibility to the public good," he said. Holtzman said news organisations have to convey the gravity of the crisis without provoking. "They have to continue advising viewers and advisors on how to stay safe when social media plays a very deleterious effect on people's psyches." Dr. John Bruni, founder and CEO of Sage International, Australia, said the proliferation of misinformation and conspiracy theories had been a major issue during Covid-19. "Think tanks must break through the noise of misinformation and overabundance of information to develop strategies to achieve positive social impact," he said. Dr Stephen Blackwell, director of research and strategic studies at Trends, said that through the real-time analysis they can provide, think tanks could do more in helping the public understand the situation.

No room for gossip

Dr Wen Wang, executive dean of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies - China, said that the media seems "influenced by gossip" while the world is dealing with a pandemic. He noted that think tanks have also not played the role expected of them to confront the Covid-19 pandemic. "Think tanks didn't play a positive role in promoting international cooperation between major powers, China and the US, in solidifying global governance," he said. Dr Wang also lamented the populism associated with the tussle over collective interest and individual freedom in something as crucial as wearing masks.

  Source: Khaleej Times (https://bit.ly/3hiElPe)