West Africa’s verification and fact-checking platform, Dubawa, has commenced training for its third cohort of fact-checking fellows.
The Dubawa fellowship, now christened Kwame Karikari Fact-Checking and Research Fellowship in honour of Ghanaian Professor, Kwame Karikari, is now in its third year.
The 2021 fellowship inducted twenty-six (26) fellows to combat misinformation in the sub region with participants from Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Liberia.
The first day of the four day training commenced on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 on Zoom with opening remarks by Ayisha Osori, Executive Director OSIWA.
Osori touched on the different forms of misinformation noting how misinformation has become one of the preferred instruments for discrediting the institutions of democracy and influencing voter behaviour, exploiting insecurities and diversity and creating disunity.
She further shed light on how information and data has been weaponized, the ascendency of doubt and the crucial role journalists and fact-checkers have to play in leveling the playing field.
She prompted participants to think more strategically about disinformation with focus on who benefits from it and who sews it.
She added that “facts are our best defense, as well as a systematic education…”, and called on participants to take up the role in fighting disinformation with truth.
Oluwatosin Alagbe, Programme Director at Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) introduced the workings of Dubawa to the participants and thanked all the facilitators for taking out time for the training.
The first session on accountability journalism and the role of the fourth estate in West Africa was taken by the Executive Director of PTCIJ and publisher Premium Times, Dapo Olorunyomi.
The session captured journalists role in democracy building and development, anchored by the four main elements of journalism; accuracy and facts, verifiable claims, independence of agency and overwhelming public interest.
The second session, led by Peter Cunliffe-Jones, Founder of Africa Check, and Senior Adviser at the International Fact-checking Network (IFCN), covered information disorder and Legal responses to misinformation.
He also looked at how information disorder can be fixed drawing information from a study that examined 11 African countries between 2016 and 2020.
He noted that the goal is to curb false information’s harmful effects, not the freedom of expression.
The third session still facilitated by Peter Cunliffe-Jones focused on the 6 C’s-Knowledge and Skills of misinformation literacy.
He highlighted media misinformation literacy as “an antidote to fake news”.