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The role of media experts in countering misinformation in emerging and established democracies during the COVID-19 and the post-COVID period was debated on Monday at the "Two Democratic Societies in Transition: Exploring the Dynamics of a Post-COVID World (# TDST2021)" International Conference, organized by the "Danubius" University of Galati.

During the conference, presentations were made about the role of university education in facilitating social progress in democratic societies, about the role of the media in countering misinformation in emerging democracies, section where AGERPRES National News Agency Director General Claudia Nicolae gave the lecture titled "News agencies remain the most credible sources of information, despite the challenges of the times."

The lecture highlighted the fact that the events of 2020 related to the pandemic will remain in the memory of future generations.

"After each difficult period we understand that more analysis is needed. The pandemic year has shown us that every habit, rule or plan can change in an instant. The lockdown and other restrictions have destroyed old habits and created some new ones and over the course of this year we have discovered how radical the transformations have been. And when habits, preferences, plans change, we try to adapt, to keep ourselves up to date about the changes around us. The recent thirst for information has led to the emergence of a vast array of information created by anyone, anywhere, without any control. Just as the pandemic started, so the number of pieces of fake news increased, but when the market became saturated, the fear of believing any information made people return to the traditional media and verified sources," said Claudia Nicolae.

In this context, the director general of AGERPRES specified that the most difficult mission was to counter the misinformation.

"The hardest part of our mission was to combat misinformation, manipulation, the INFODEMIC. These are more dangerous than lies in politics and economics because they directly affect people's lives," said Claudia Nicolae.

The AGERPRES National News Agency also had to make adjustments in order to continue its activity under pandemic conditions.

"AGERPRES News Agency has been the main source of information in Romania and abroad about Romania since its founding. Even during the pandemic, AGERPRES continued to work based on the most important pillars - the mission to be impartial, objective news. The organization has adapted very well to the new circumstances. We have adapted online management, we have kept the employees involved and thus, the organization has strengthened. Some changes will remain for a long time and maybe forever. We have noticed that digitisation is inevitable. Customers have also changed their habits. Involvement, targeted content, tailored advertising require more information from customers. Teleworking can also continue wherever possible, where employees have become accustomed to it, and it is an advantage for the institution. Investigative journalists, even during the state of emergency, were in the front line to deliver objective news," said Claudia Nicolae.

She also said that by anticipating the need for pandemic information, AGERPRES has created a feed dedicated to this issue and the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 with real-time internal and external information.

In addition, AGERPRES has joined the European EDNA project together with other agencies, a platform that provides journalists with information about the EU that concerns people around the world.

The "Danubius" University of Galati is organizing starting with Monday, for three days, the first edition of the # TDST2021 International Conference.

The conference welcomes guests from the USA, from UCLA, the University of Richmond, University of Southern Indiana, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Bryan University, St. Mary's College of Maryland, alongside Romanian researchers, who will have the opportunity to discuss topics of great interest to the academic world and society as a whole, on topics in the fields of education, public health, media, economics, technology.

During the conference there will be lectures on social and economic development in the United States and Romania.

During the three days of the # TDST2021 Conference, the audience will enjoy lectures and research by US and Romanian professors on technology and the future, on climate change, on the military alliance between the USA and Romania, on identifying and reducing gender inequities, sections where Dr. Victor Alistar (National School of Political and Administrative Studies), Dr. Gloria Thomas (University of North Carolina), Dr. Gelu Duminica, sociologist, Gen. Sergiu Medar, Dr. Laszlo Borbely (Government of Romania - Department for Sustainable Development), Dr. Ioan Craciun (National Institute for Research and Development in Informatics). AGERPRES (RO - author: Dan Paic, editor: Karina Olteanu; EN - author: Simona Iacob, editor: Razvan-Adrian Pandea)

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