Fact-checkers, journalists urged to curb misinformation to safeguard democracy in Africa

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Fact-checkers and journalists in Africa have been urged to utilize their verification skills to ensure free flow of factual information in public so as to curb misinformation that may undermine democracy in the continent.

The director-general of Casa África, José Segura Clavell, gave the charge on Thursday at a training it organized in collaboration with the European Union, the Spanish Embassy in Nigeria, and Dubawa’s Centre for Journalism Innovation & Development (CJID).

The training titled: Advanced Course on Disinformation, Fact-checking and Digital Cybersecurity for Nigerian Journalists, aims at empowering Nigerian journalists with verification and digital cybersecurity skills.

The two-day training included courses such as understanding how ChatGPT works, advanced internet search, disinformation techniques, image and video verification, digital cybersecurity for journalists and fact-checking ethics for journalists.

“We are very proud to collaborate with our Nigerian partners in this training programme that aims to strengthen the capacities of African journalists in fact-checking and digital security. We believe that these skills are essential for a quality journalism that can inform citizens and combat misinformation that can undermine democracy and human rights,” José Segura said.

He noted that the training is part of the #periodismoAfrica programme of Casa África which seeks to bring Africa and Spain closer together through educational, economic, cultural and informative activities.

He emphasized that for the past 15 years, Casa África has been fighting against stereotypes in narratives about African continent and supporting the role journalism plays as a powerful tool in the fight against misinformation.

Also speaking at the event, Tobi Oluwatola, the Executive Director of Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), stated that the influx of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transposing the world and the need for journalists to apply them in verification and digital literacy.

He said: “AI and its new iteration of large language models have changed the world in ways we do not fully comprehend yet. It is critical that Journalists are able to explain and leverage them for democratic purposes such as verification and digital literacy.”

Commenting on the programme, Juan Sell, the Spanish Ambassador to Nigeria, who attended the training’s closing ceremony, added that the reinforcement of a free, independent media in Africa is crucial to Spain.

“Spain is holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU this Semester and among our priorities there is certainly the support of a free, independent, trustworthy and competent media, in Africa and elsewhere, as it is a prerequisite for a thriving and inclusive democracy.

“Casa Africa is hitting the bulls-eye by bringing the most specialized fact-checkers of Spain to train Nigerian journalists and partnering with Dubawa, an already reputed platform in the field of nowadays essential fight against disinformation,” Sell said.

Fact-checker at The FactheckHub | [email protected] | + posts

Seasoned fact-checker and researcher Fatimah Quadri has written numerous fact-checks, explainers, and media literacy pieces for The FactCheckHub in an effort to combat information disorder. She can be reached at sunmibola_q on X or [email protected].

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