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The 17th World Meeting of the Bulgarian Media started with a prayer at the Holy Sepulchre


Representatives of 20 Bulgarian media outlets in 13 countries attended a 3-day forum mottoed "Media and Salvation" in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on November 1-3.

In her address to the participants Vice-President Iliana Iotova noted that this meeting also marks the beginning of the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews.

Turning to the topic of the discussions, Yotova emphasized that real news takes on average 6 times longer to reach 1,500 people than fake news. And she suggested a different angle to the fake news debate. 

She described the war in Ukraine as "a war for Europe" and noted that the effort to talk about peace through the media has ceased since February. In her opinion, "a just as perilous battle for facts, for interpretations and for sensations is waged in cyberspace".

"Is fake news possible if there are no fake policies? - Iotova asked. - The war raging today in Ukraine, at the heart of Europe, is a war for Europe - for the Europe we have dreamed of, fought for and have a duty to preserve, a Europe of the values we all stand for. 

But this is also the nightmarish reality of misinformation. A recent poll shows that more than half of Bulgarians do not trust information about the war - that is, they do not believe us when we talk about the war in numbers and percentages. On the internet, the battle for facts, interpretations and sensationalism is no less dangerous and fierce. 

Have we ever wondered why, when we watch the news from Ukraine, we don't see the war correspondents of the past as we remember them? Instead, misinformation is coming from all sides and huge waves of this misinformation are flooding us with doctored truths and interpretations of events, playing with edited footage. In this mad race, not even the possibility of talking about peace is allowed. And as we talk about the media, about truth and salvation, there has not been a single report, analysis or effort to talk about peace through the media since February." 

Can we crack down on the "fake news" epidemic? 

"The biggest responsibility lies with journalists and the media," Iliana Iotova reminded. And that is why the voices in support of real journalism have been quite strong lately. This should be the job not only of the journalists themselves, but also of the media, who do not want to take advantage and profit from fake news." 

The media environment is becoming more complex in view of the influence of social networks, said Culture Minister Veleslav Minekov, who is coordinating state celebrations of the 80th anniversary of the rescue of Bulgarian Jews: 

"Two factors make the media environment in Bulgaria problematic - lack of transparency of ownership and the dependence of public media on state funding. The Law on Radio and Television is outdated and does not correspond to the modern communication environment," the minister pointed out, adding that Bulgarian media tend to go in different directions and in their attempt to appeal to the young audience seek to catch up with social media as a source of information." 

The World Meetings of Bulgarian Media, which have so far been held in cities and countries with the largest Bulgarian diaspora, are an excellent platform for promoting the results achieved in the economy, including in tourism, Tourism Minister Ilin Dimitrov said. Paraphrasing the motto of the meeting, he pointed out that the media is the salvation of the sector he represents and appealed: 

"We are fighting for our image. Every month we read between 150 and 170 negative headlines about tourism in Bulgaria and this harms our sector. I would urge that we reconsider the way we talk about tourism. As far as the media environment is concerned, in the last three months we have been actively focusing on new technologies, digitalisation and social networks, but we do not want to move away from traditional information channels."

The forum began with a thanksgiving service at the Holy Sepulchre, celebrated in Bulgarian by the Metropolitan of Western and Central Europe Anthony and archpriest Konstantin Tsankov, in co-celebration with priests from the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, members of the Holy Sepulchre monastery brotherhood. This was the first service in Bulgarian to be held on Golgotha."We prayed for the health and prosperity of the Bulgarian nation," Metropolitan Anthony said after the service:

"As prelates of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, we always pray for the ruling authorities, for the Bulgarian Patriarch, for all those whom God has consecrated, for the Holy Bulgarian Orthodox Church. And especially here, in this most holy place for all Christians, where our Saviour Jesus Christ suffered on the cross, and where He was buried and rose again on the third day. For we know that for every Orthodox Christian the Resurrection is the foundation of his faith. It is a belief that God has not forgotten us. And so on that day, I prayed that God would redeem the sins, voluntary or involuntary, of all of us, forgive us and bring about a better future and present for all Bulgarians throughout the land, wherever they may be."

BTA Director General Kiril Valchev pointed out that the 17th World Meeting of Bulgarian Media begins at a significant place for Bulgarians, where not only the salvation of the Bulgarian Jews should be discussed, but also the salvation of truth in media and the eternal values in them.

"Think of the excitement of the Bulgarians during the Revival, when they visited or dreamed of visiting Jerusalem. We begin the 17th World Meeting of Bulgarian Media in a truly significant place. Here and now we practically set off the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the rescue of Bulgarian Jews by the Bulgarian state, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the entire Bulgarian nation. (In 1943 Bulgaria refused to deport nearly 50 thousand Jews living on its territory - ed.) But this is a very appropriate place to talk about the salvation of truth in the media in a world of lies freely parading on the Internet.

Today, the first panel discussion on "Media and Human Salvation (the eternal values in the media)" in Jerusalem. The panel will be moderated by Assoc. Prof. Georgi Lozanov, head of BTA's Knowledge and Culture LIK Directorate.The second panel, entitled "Media and Their Salvation in the Internet World", will be hosted by the Israeli News Agency Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

After the discussions, the participants will visit Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, dedicated to the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.A visit to the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Jerusalem and a meeting with its Director, Avital Leibovich, are scheduled to take place afterwards.

The traditional award of the National Endowment Fund "13 Centuries of Bulgaria" for contribution to the dissemination of Bulgarian culture by Bulgarian-language media abroad will also be presented during the meeting.

Listen to the daily news from Bulgaria presented in "Bulgaria Today" podcast, available in Spotify.

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