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International Fact-checking Day: African Fact-checkers and journalists advocate collaboration and community building to address information disorder

Journalists and fact-checkers in Africa have called for community building across newsrooms and rural communities to tackle the menace of information disorder. 

This call was made during a Twitter space commemorating International Fact-checking Day held on Monday, April 3, 2023. 

The space hosted by the West African fact-checking platform DUBAWA brought together different fact-checkers and journalists across the region to discuss ways of curbing information disorder in local communities.

The Twitter space was tagged “The importance of community in the fight against information disorder.”

DUBAWA’s Communications Officer, Maxine Danso, who moderated the space, called on Fact-checkers and journalists from different media platforms to share their opinions on ways local communities could be inoculated from information disorder.

Liberian-based journalist and DUBAWA fellow Varney Dukuly, spoke on how offline communities could be included and close the gap of information disorder.  He explained that people in those communities must be reached out to and enlightened. 

“They need to know what fact-checking is, the dangers of disinformation and the ripple effect it could have,” he said.

Mr Dukuly tasked journalists to create awareness about these concepts and phenomena in their communities.  

He also noted that people need to identify purveyors of disinformation and acquaint themselves with their intent. 

Edem Kunkpe, a Class 91.3 FM social media supervisor in Ghana, stated that people in local communities should be made to imbibe the culture of questioning news sources and seek the origin of a piece of information before holding on to it. 

Ms Kunkpe further stated that it is better for media professionals to boldly include the sources of their news items rather than causing the public to cast a shadow of doubt on their work and giving a large room to fact-check.

Nigerian-based broadcasting journalist, Rasheedat Oladotun, pointed out that traditional media should still be highly leveraged because it is this set of media outlets that people at the grassroots level are still very much conversant with. 

“The radio and television are what they listen to,” she stated. 

Ms Oladotun further revealed that information disorder could be curbed when fact-checked news items are translated into the native languages of the local communities. She opined that people in these local communities would better comprehend the existence of disinformation and be weary of it when informed in their indigenous languages. 

She, therefore, proposed that fact-checkers be trained in these local languages to efficiently translate fact-checked news content in those languages for people at the grassroots.

For The Gambia-based investigative journalist Maryam Sankanu, there is an existing void between media professionals and the communities in the sense that whenever media professionals and CSOs float a social campaign, the people who are at the very core of the society are not always involved. 

She noted that even though fact-checking and verification agendas are a welcomed idea, the community people want to feel they are role players in the scene. 

Ms Sankanu advised that CSOs should dialogue with significant community societies such as women-formed societies. She recalled a scenario in The Gambia where female leaders in the local communities were sought after for their participation in a political movement in the country. 

Mohamed Nyallay, a journalist and media manager in Sierra Leone, also noted that it would be in the best interests of CSOs to fully engage community stakeholders, such as community leaders and elders, in their campaign movements. 

He said community leaders should be entrusted with sensitising the community’s people to the agendas of the CSOs. The media manager noted that local leaders are the next sources of insight (information) and grassroots organisation for these communities outside the traditional media.

Mr Nyallah, noting there is no perfect solution to the existing divide, insisted that the gap can be bridged if media platforms take community leaders in the arms and reach out to the rest of the community through them.

Wrapping up the Twitter space, the Deputy Director of Verification and Media Literacy, Caroline Anipah, said the fight against information disorder is not limited to communities who cannot access online information. 

She added that this community building includes fact-checkers, journalists and CSOs. 

“There is a lot involved in the fight against information disorder, and fact-checkers and researchers have built communities amongst themselves to tackle it. But the real issue now is how these platforms can support each other and realise that we are not competing; we are not rivals,” she said.  

The Deputy Director admonished every participant in the space to collaborate to fight information disorder.

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  1. Is the audio of a purported conversation between Presidential candidate, Peter Obi and Bishop Oyedepo authentic? Dubawa can help lay the controversy to rest.

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