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UNESCO warns against Ďdisinfodemicí amid COVID-19 pandemic

Unreliable and false information is spreading around the world to such an extent, that some commentators are now referring to the new avalanche of misinformation thatís accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic as a Ďdisinfodemicí.

And fears are growing that this phenomenon is putting lives at risk, prompting some with symptoms to try unproven remedies in the hope of Ďcuringí themselves. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is leading efforts to counter falsehoods and promote the facts about the virus.

Well, before the outbreak of the virus, UNESCO was issuing warnings of the impact that political, technological, economic and social transformation has had on how people exchange information in recent years, referring to the Ďícontaminationíí caused by some orchestrated misinformation campaigns, which pose a threat to fact-based journalism and, particularly during the current pandemic, peopleís lives.

The Director for Policies and Strategies regarding Communication and Information at UNESCO Guy Berger said falsehoods related to all aspects of COVID-19 have become commonplace.

ďThere seems to be barely an area left untouched by disinformation in relation† to the COVID-19 crisis, ranging from the origin of the Corona virus, through to unproven prevention and cures, and encompassing responses by governments, companies, celebrities and others.íí

He added that, ďin a time of high fears, uncertainties and unknowns, there is fertile ground for fabrications to flourish and grow. The big risk is that any single falsehood that gains traction can negate the significance of a body of true facts. When disinformation is repeated and amplified, including by influential people, the grave danger is that information which is based on truth, ends up having only marginal impact.íí

Because of the scale of the problem, the World Health Organization (WHO), which is leading the UNís response to the pandemic, has added a Ďímyth bustersíí section to its online Coronavirus advice pages.

It refutes a staggering array of myths, including claims that drinking potent alcoholic drinks, exposure to high temperatures, or conversely, cold weather, can kill the virus.

Berger noted that some people believe, wrongly, that young people or those of African descent are immune, and that those in warm climates or countries where summer is on its way, do not need to worry too much. The likely consequence, he says, is complacency, which could fuel more premature deaths.

The UNESCO official also pointed to a more harmful example of disinformation: encouraging the taking of medication, approved for other purposes, but not yet clinically proven as being effective against COVID-19.

Furthermore, Berger said some have capitalized on the pandemic, to spread disinformation for the purposes of advancing their own agendas: ďThe motives for spreading disinformation are many, and include political aims, self-promotion, and attracting attention as part of a business model. Those who do so, play on emotion, fears, prejudices and ignorance, and claim to bring meaning and certainty to a reality that is complex, challenging and fast-changing.

But, he added, not everyone responsible for spreading untruths is doing so maliciously. He said there are well-intentioned people are also uncritically circulating dubious content. Whatever the reasons, he warns, the outcome is the same: ĎíThese different motives require different responses, but we should not lose sight of the fact that, irrespective of intention, the effect of sharing falsehoods is to misinform and disempower the public, with deadly potential.íí

Against this, what can be done to ensure that truthful, helpful and potentially life-saving information gains wider prominence? UNESCOís Berger says, is to improve the supply of truthful information, and ensure that the demand is met: ďWe are underlining that governments, in order to counter rumours, should be more transparent, and proactively disclose more data, in line with Right to Information laws and policies. Access to information from official sources is very important for credibility in this crisis.íí

Berger said UNESCO is intensifying efforts to persuade authorities to see free and professional information gatekeepers like media houses who he said should be an ally in the fight against disinformation. He chose news media because it works openly in the public sphere, whereas much disinformation is under-the-radar on social messaging apps.íí

UNESCO, continued Berger, is particularly urging governments, not to impose restrictions on freedom of expression that can harm the essential role of an independent press, but to recognise journalism as a power against disinformation even when it publicises verified information and informed opinion that annoys those in power. He said there is a string case to be made that the media deserves to be recognised and supported by governments as an essential service at this time.

To satisfy the demand for authorised facts, UNESCO says its circulating as much reliable public health information as possible, via the media, channels, in partnership with agencies like WHO.

The group is also working to help people become more critical of what is being presented to them online and elsewhere, as fact, so that they are less likely to believe, and spread, falsehoods. The agency is using hashtags and promoting the view that the rights to freedom of expression and access to information are the best remedies to the dangers of disinformation.

These rights, says Berger, ďenable governments and the public to take evidence-based decisions about reality, and to put in place responses that are founded on both science and human rights values, and which can get us through the pandemic in the best ways.íí

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WeekendLife

BOTSWANA TO HOST MISS WORLD 2026

6th December 2023

Even though Botswana has over the years been performing extremely poorly at the Miss World competition, the country has confirmed that it will be hosting the beauty festival in 2026. Initially, the country was to host Miss World next year, something it failed to confirm before deadline. Director at Miss Botswana, Benjamin Raletsatsi, says Botswana will be ready then to host all participants. Miss Botswana Top 25 finalists left the boot camp yesterday. Quite shocking though, Miss Botswana team is still failing basics as responding to media inquiries on time yet it is dangerously hoping to host an event of high status

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WeekendLife

DJ Sway ‚Äėsaved‚Äô the YAMAs

22nd November 2023

DJ Sway, the daring and ambitious on-air presenter of Yarona FM, played a crucial role in saving the radio station’s music awards, known as the YAMAs. The event was initially dry and disorganized, but DJ Sway, who co-hosted with Pearl Thusi, injected life into the show. However, things took a turn for the worse when Pearl Thusi abruptly left the stage, leaving DJ Sway to carry on alone. Despite the unexpected setback, DJ Sway rose to the occasion and captivated the audience, effectively putting an end to the drama caused by Pearl Thusi.

In an exclusive interview after the YAMAs, DJ Sway revealed the behind-the-scenes chaos that unfolded during the event. He acknowledged the script editors, Phalana and Hope, who worked tirelessly to reedit the script and adapt it to a one-host format. Despite the last-minute changes, DJ Sway remained composed and focused, thanks to the support of his colleagues, such as Owen Rampha, Katlego Rakola, Tshepang Motsisi (DJ Easy), and LB.

When asked about his initial reaction to the unexpected turn of events, DJ Sway admitted to feeling saddened by how things ended. However, he credited Pearl Thusi for giving him a much-needed confidence boost during his moment of doubt. She reminded him that he was destined for greatness and that he didn’t need big stars to succeed. With her words of encouragement, DJ Sway regained his composure and approached the rest of the show with the same professionalism and charisma he displays on the radio.

To overcome the challenges he faced, DJ Sway relied on his radio skills and calm personality. He engaged with the audience as if he were speaking to a single person, pointing out individuals in the crowd to create a more intimate connection. He also expressed gratitude for his backstage team, who provided support and ensured the smooth running of the show.

DJ Sway expressed satisfaction in being seen as the saving grace of the YAMAs. He believed that he fulfilled his role as a host and brought joy to the Yarona FM board, his family, and his fans. Despite his success, DJ Sway’s journey has not been without hardships. He has experienced the loss of his mother and sister, which has left a lasting impact on him. While he continues to grieve, he seeks solace in therapy sessions and relies on his father for emotional support.

DJ Sway’s dedication to his craft and ability to overcome adversity make him a remarkable figure in the radio industry. His vibrant personality and deep knowledge of music have made him a perfect fit for Yarona FM. Despite the challenges he has faced, DJ Sway remains determined to make a positive impact and bring joy to his listeners. With his talent and resilience, there is no doubt that DJ Sway will continue to thrive in his career and leave a lasting legacy in the world of radio.

 

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WeekendLife

Chef Gustos walk of shame

22nd November 2023

Chef Gustos, the renowned hitmaker, recently experienced what can only be described as a walk of shame at the 8th edition of the Yarona FM Music Awards (YAMAs). Despite being nominated a whopping seven times, he failed to secure a single win. Ouch!

The night was filled with surprises, drama, and controversy, but the biggest winner of the evening was Han C, who walked away with three awards, including Best Pop and Best Male Single for his hit song, “Sebinki.” Han C graciously announced that he would be donating P10,000 from his winnings to his fellow nominees, promoting a spirit of togetherness among artists. What a noble gesture!

Meanwhile, Chef Gustos found himself on the losing end of several categories, including People’s Choice Artist of the Year, which he had won in the past. He seemed unfazed by the loss, stating, “People know that ‘Away’ was big, but they won’t stop me.” It’s clear that Chef Gustos is determined to continue making music, regardless of the awards he receives.

However, he did express his frustration with the outcome, suggesting that the awards may be corrupt. He declined to comment further, citing the need to protect his brand and maintain good relationships with corporate clients. It’s understandable that he wants to avoid any potential damage to his future prospects.

In fact, Chef Gustos went so far as to request that Yarona FM not nominate him for future YAMAs. It seems he wants to distance himself from the disappointment and focus on his music without the pressure of awards. Perhaps this decision will allow him to create freely and without the burden of expectations.

While Chef Gustos may have experienced a walk of shame at the YAMAs, it’s important to remember that awards do not define an artist’s talent or success. His fans still appreciate his music, and he continues to have gigs with corporate clients. So, despite the disappointment, Chef Gustos remains optimistic about his future in the industry.

In the end, the YAMAs may have been a letdown for Chef Gustos, but he’s determined to keep moving forward. He won’t let a lack of awards dampen his spirits or hinder his creativity. And who knows, maybe next time he’ll come back stronger and prove that he’s deserving of recognition. After all, the true measure of an artist’s success lies in the hearts of their fans, not in shiny trophies.

 

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