The Dubawa Fact-Checking Fellowship Program
Our Fellowship Programme is a novel sustainable model for expanding the reach of verified information to grassroots communities who are targeted constituencies for political, social and cultural disinformation, by leveraging existing traditional news platforms that share news in different formats (specifically local radio and print). The Programme uses a tripartite structure that focuses on the people, the journalist and the newsroom – existing newsrooms provide the platforms for the dissemination of fact-checks through our close managerial support; journalists in those newsrooms who would ordinarily focus on every day “breaking news” reportage become able to combine fact-checking/verification with the demands of their newsroom through our training, close mentoring and editorial support; and ultimately, the 55% of Nigerians that lack access to the internet gain verified information [that will help them make informed choices] through the mediums where they obtain their news.
The need for this programme stems from our observations of people [Nigerians] as producers and consumers of information. As producers, most journalists who were trained on the theory and practice of fact-checking/verification were not able and willing to apply their learnings as a result of the absence of ongoing support by training institutions and the resistance by newsroom managers who did not understand the importance of fact-checking and saw it as a disruption of their work at an extra cost with no return on investment. As consumers, Nigerians expressed a desire for verified information but due to a number of reasons, including high illiteracy rate and mistrust for new media, have been subjected to misinformation in various forms that have fuelled ethnic and religious crisis at the local level.
This year, the Fellowship was extended to Ghana and included researchers who produced original research on the complexities of information disorder in Nigeria and Ghana.