Stanford University selects VRT journalist for research fellowship

Our colleague Tom Van de Weghe has been selected for a 1-year research fellowship at the prestigious Stanford University in the United States. The 43-year-old journalist who worked as the VRT’s correspondent in China and the United States before more recently working as a foreign editor in our Brussels newsroom has been awarded the John S. Knight Fellowship.

The John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford is a paid 10-month journalism fellowship at Stanford University. The fellowship, which is awarded to up to 20 journalists each year, is open to professional journalists with a minimum of seven years of experience (five years for journalists from outside the US).

Acceptance is based on the applicants' ability to "identify and articulate a challenge in journalism that they want to work on addressing.". While in California Tom Van de Weghe will carry out research into how artificial intelligence can be used in the fight against disinformation.

Speaking about having been given the fellowship Tom Van De Weghe told VRT News that "It is a very great honour for me to have been chosen by Stanford together with a handful of other international journalists”.

"Journalism, new technology and gaining experience abroad are three passions I hope to be able to combine there in the heart of Silicon Valley”.

"Fake videos are a threat to democracy"

Tom Van de Weghe believes that one of the most urgent challenges facing contemporary journalism is the rise of fake news videos.

"It’s a phenomenon that we greatly underestimate, but there we are confronted with tsunami of fake videos. New artificial intelligence applications mean that it is easy to falsify video imagery. It is technically already possible and it is getting easier all the time. It will no longer be the case that seeing is believing and this will have enormous consequences for democracy”.

Tom Van de Weghe will look into how artificial intelligence can be used to detect fake videos.

"The disinformation we saw during the American presidential elections is just the tip of the iceberg. I hope that we can join forces to look for a solution so that newsrooms will be forearmed in the future”.

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