Apr 5, 2022 - Economy & Business

NBC News exec recounts disinformation crisis at start of Russia invasion

Cesar Conde and Sara Fischer at Axios' What's Next Summit

NBCUniversal Chief Cesar Conde and Axios' Sara Fischer at the Axios What's Next Summit. Photo: Chuck Kennedy/Axios

At the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, seven or eight out of the ten videos and images the company received were fake or doctored, Cesar Conde, the chair of NBCUniversal News, said at the Axios What's Next summit on Tuesday.

Driving the news: Though Russian state-media has faced widespread de-platforming, misinformation about the conflict has continued to spread easily, per Axios' Ina Fried and Sara Fischer.

  • Conde said his organization was spending considerable resources to verify and confirm claims coming out of Ukraine, including with reporters on the ground who, Conde said, would be there "for the long haul."
  • "In many ways, what we were receiving was was counterfeit news...And so you know, this topic is taking up much more bandwidth and resources from us than in an a regular situation."

Details: Conde explained that one of the challenges news organizations are facing is that people are getting more news faster, but that does not mean that news is better.

  • Ensuring that the news people are receiving is real and accurate is "fundamental," for NBC.
  • He also explained that the proliferation of misinformation means that trust in news institutions is at stake.
  • A part of that mission is making sure that NBC's journalism remains free, so that it can reach a broader population.

What he's saying: Conde explained that if there journalism doesn't remain free "large portions of the population who may not be able to afford subscription services may be left with only what's out there in social media and worse, some of the misinformation and disinformation that's that's out there."

  • "So for us at the News Group, what we're focused on is really taking the incredible work of our courageous journalists on the ground how do we decipher [fact from fiction] and then ensure we disseminated across all these emergent platforms," Conde added.
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