The president of Spain's international news agency, EFE - Jose Antonio Vera - said Tuesday in China before some 300 journalists from all over the world that "'fake news' atrophies our minds," since it makes us "intolerant and sectarian," comparing its effect to that of "fast food" on the body.
Vera, who addressed the 3rd Media Cooperation Forum on Belt and Road, proposed serious and professionally committed journalism as an antidote to the spread of fake news or so-called "post-truth" reporting.
The forum is being held this time in the western city of Dunhuang, in China's Gansu province, an ancient oasis from which caravans departed to ply the Silk Road trading route.
Before an audience of more than 300 international press executives and journalists, as well as many Chinese reporters, the president of the world's largest Spanish-language news agency said that "'fake news' and post-truth (articles) are to reporting what 'fast food' is to healthy nutrition."
Just as fast food has "an addictive taste that attracts us but produces cardiovascular diseases and obesity over the long term," fake news stories "entertain us because they are often scandalous and tell us things we want to hear," he added.
But "without our noticing, all those lies and adulterations of reality go toward forming part of our opinions and we become intolerant and sectarian. They atrophy our minds," he asserted.
Vera said that fake news has proliferated "for a very simple reason: because we confuse reporting with expressing an opinion."
The EFE president said that "reporting is something more difficult, more demanding, most costly and more responsible than giving an opinion. Because anyone can express an opinion and sometimes with disgraceful intentions."
On the other hand, Vera said that quality reporting can only be done by a professional "with a level of commitment and training that supports his articles and their veracity."
Good reporting consists of "articles that do not seek only 'likes' for the sake of sensationalism and cheap opinions, but that seek to please and entertain, of course, but also to educate and inform."
In this context, he paid tribute to the work of news agencies that "from humble anonymity take on the extraordinary challenge" of informing the public 24 hours a day and every day of the year.
The news agencies provide their customers with "the necessary gasoline to function. Without expressing an opinion, without judging or inventing, just relating what occurs," Vera said.
Attending the forum this year are 303 journalists from 126 nations and 265 media outlets, including the presidents of Latin America's Notimex, Telam and Prensa Latina agencies, as well as the heads of the Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg, Sputnik, Tass and the Microsoft and Facebook global media outlets.
Also on hand are executives and journalists from dailies such as The Financial Times, Le Monde, The Guardian, Daily Mail, Pravda, Jerusalem Post, Clarin, El Mercurio, El Mundo and Milenio, and many others as well as assorted other media outlets from around the world.