In an effort to combat the growing problem of fake news in today’s digital landscape, The International Centre for Investigative Reporting or ICIR has held a three-day training for a selected group of journalists representing 30 media organizations across Nigeria.
The participants of this training program were chosen from a diverse range of media outlets, encompassing print, online, and broadcast media, hailing from all six geo-political zones of the country.
During the opening remarks, Mathias Dold, the German Embassy in Nigeria’s First Secretary of Political Affairs, emphasized the importance of countering misinformation and promoting media literacy as integral components of a thriving democracy.
Dold referenced the findings of the EU Election Observation Mission’s final report, which highlighted the prevalence of misleading content produced by political actors across the spectrum, underscoring the urgent need for concerted efforts to combat this issue.
Also speaking, Dayo Aiyetan, the Executive Director of The ICIR, represented by Opeyemi Kehinde, the editor of FactCheckhub, expounded upon the pivotal role that media plays in the fight against misinformation.
Aiyetan stressed that the battle against misinformation in Nigeria could not be won without the active involvement and collaboration of the media, which served as the reason for The ICIR’s decision to provide comprehensive training to journalists.
The core objective of this training program is to enhance the capacity of media professionals in countering misinformation and disinformation narratives across various platforms.
By equipping journalists with the necessary skills and tools to engage in fact-checking, The ICIR aims to instil a culture of critical thinking and responsible information dissemination.
Furthermore, one of the key outcomes of this training program is for the participants to organize subsequent step-down training sessions within their respective media organizations.
This approach, according to the ICIR, will ensure the widespread adoption of fact-checking practices and further promote a culture of accuracy and integrity within the media landscape.
On his part, Alfred Akerele, the Programs manager of ICIR said that the essence of this training and fellowship is to equip journalists with the skill set that will help them create a fact-checking desk in their organization or work towards improving an existing one to help combat misinformation.
“The goal of the training is to expand the fact-checking skills to primarily combat information disorder. The trained journalists are expected to not only carry out tasks for the sake of the fellowship but to also stand in as ambassadors that carry on the legacy of fact-checking by fighting information disorder,” Akerele stated.
Daisi Omokungbe, a participant from Daily Agent Check, said that before coming for the training, he had hoped to learn more about fact-checking, improve on the existing desk that his organization already has, and develop more tools that can help them work better, especially in a world where Artificial Intelligence has now become popular.
“The world is changing; when I had this chance, my goal was to come learn new ways I could use debunk information disorder,” Omokungbe said
He added that “the training opened me up to a vast understanding of the limitless possibilities that exist in harnessing tools that could be used for fact-checking. I believe that with great effort, my organization would be part of the Fact Checkers coalition in Nigeria.”
The training, titled “Countering Misinformation and Promoting Media Literacy in Nigeria Project,” was supported by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Abuja.