Media Professionals Urged to Embrace Fact Checking Tool

Uploaded by on June 6, 2019

In an era of misinformation and disinformation there is a need for media professionals to embrace the fact-checking tool to ascertain the veracity of claims by newsmakers.

The Provost Nigeria Institute of Journalism, NIJ, Lagos, Mr. Gbemiga Ogunleye made the point while making a presentation at the just concluded one week training on Fact-Checking and Investigative Journalism, courtesy the Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism, PTCIJ, in collaboration with the European Union through the British Council for selected journalists in Lagos and Ogun State, southwest Nigeria.
Although there has been so much emphasis on Fact-checking at various media fora, lately, following the spate of fake news especially in the social media, it has always been part of journalism practice globally Mr. Ogunleye said.
He said that though the culture got eroded along the line, there was need for journalists to revive the practice to give more credibility to their stories and for the good of the public

Mr. Ogunleye who decried that trained journalists have been helping in the propagation of fake news, by sharing articles without proper verification to ascertain their authenticity, urged them to refrain from such act as it goes against the ethics of the profession.

“So, there is need for media houses to go back to the old values of fact-checking. Doing this will enhance the credibility of what the media publish”.

The media owes the public a duty to ensure that they feed them with accurate information on government policies and actions, hence the need for them to fact-check the veracity of every claim made by public office holders to hold accountable to the people and this can only be achieved through fact-checking Mr. Ogunleye noted.

The Manager Programmes PTCIJ, Mr. Akintunde Babatunde called for the creation of fact-checking desks in newsrooms across the country to ensure that the public is fed with accurate and factual information about happenings around them and beyond.
Mr. Akintunde noted that the whole essence of the exercise was to build the capacity of journalists in the criminal justice and anti corruption sector to be able to verify every claim available to them before broadcast using various fact-checking tools.

“These realities brought about the fact that we need to conduct trainings for journalists to be able to track fake news and verify using technology tools. When newsrooms have a culture of saying let us have fact-checking desks, these desks will be directly responsible for verification of news and try to ensure the stories that newsrooms publish are deeply rooted in verification.

“Sometimes when we publish stories, we fail to try as much as possible to identify the truthfulness of the news. So, when we have fact-checking desks, after stories have been published, they will then get the claims in the statement that are made by news sources using skills and online tools.

Every journalism practice should be investigative because you are trying to let people know what they did not know said The Editor in Chief/Chief Operating Officer Premium Times, Mr. Musikilu Mojeed.

He made reference to section 22 of the constitution which empowers journalists to inform and hold public officials accountable to the people.

“Journalists must understand their constitutional roles, they must understand what the constitution asked them to do.
The constitution expects them to hold officials accountable. So, if they understand that, then, they should proceed to get training in this area to sharpen their capacity to hold officials accountable. Then, they should have passion to push for change in their country, in their communities, in their states. Once that is there, then, they should know that it is not that complicated”.

He urged journalist to first of all
try to develop the passion and interest in investigative journalism, understand what their roles are in the society and then, try to get a bit of capacity building in the area and subsequently, apply knowledge gained in the discharge of their duties in their day-to-day reportage.

Speaking on security, Mr. Mojeed noted that even without doing journalism, everyone naturally should know how to secure themselves one way or another, adding that it is a critical issue that every journalist must take seriously.

“As I said, security is a big issue. We must be familiar with the environment in which we operate in. We must take security precautions. We must not always go alone to our sources, we must carry our editors and colleagues along in the work that we do.”

There are likely to be some implications if journalists should go to some sources perceived to be dangerous alone Mr. Mojeed advised.

He explained that data enriches reports and gives journalists a new way to tell their stories.

A well-designed data visualization can give viewers an immediate and profound impression, and cut through the clutter of a complex story to get right to the point he noted.

“Basically data is important because it is that evidence that enriches our discussions, enriches our stories and gives us new perspectives to our stories. Basically, it helps us in the key discussions we have with key players in our beats and makes us do more in-depth stories, it helps us in our investigations and does a lot in terms of support. Because when you can visualize data, it gives you a new way to do your story telling.”

On his part, The Programmes Manager Advocacy and Accountability, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, Mr. Mboho Eno expressed the believe that participants would change the narrative by putting into practice what they have learnt during the period of the training.

“One expectation is to have them practicalise what they have been thought. We are expecting a lot of investigative stories, we expecting a couple of fact-checks. We are also expecting a lot of data stories. We are actually expecting them also to serve as train the trainers, to go back to their newsrooms and become examples of what they have learnt”.

Participants in the workshop were all full of praises for the facilitators and funders of the programme and promised to put into use the skills gained during the training in their respective newsrooms with a view to ensuring accountability.

Chinyere Ogbonna

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