Lawrence Nwimo, Awka
No fewer than 30 journalists have been trained on Countering Misinformation and Promoting Media Literacy in Nigeria.
The training which was held in Abuja on Tuesday was organised by the International Centre for Investigative Journalism (ICIR) with support from German Embassy in Nigeria.
Ikengaonline reports that the training is aimed at building the capacity of journalists towards combating the spread of fake news and misinformation which has proven to be a menace to public peace and national security.
The journalists were drawn from different media houses comprising the online, print and broadcasts stations in the country.
Addressing the Participants, representative of the German Embassy in Nigeria, Matthias Dold, highlighted the importance of Countering Misinformation and Promoting Media Literacy in Nigeria as a key component of democracy.
He said “The EU Election Observation Mission concluded in its final report documented a large amount of misleading content allegedly produced by political camps and various individuals, regularly targeted actors across the political system.
“In addition, influential members of leading parties regularly spread unverified or even false information targeting the opponents, while critical reporting was at times also referred to as ‘fake news’ by some political actors. This worsened an already opaque information environment.”
Dold said “Nigeria rightly prides itself in having an open, pluralistic and media landscape, and in my view, this is an important contribution to the strength of the Nigerian democracy.”
“For this to stay this way, and for journalists and media representatives to be able to detect and identify disinformation, capacity building is essential. Modern media must be capable of keeping up with modern technology.
“But it is not technological capacity that is important, deeper reflection on the fake news and disinformation is also necessary. Given the plethora of misinformation, this is the threshold for fact-checkers to intervene.”
Dold, who is also the First Secretary Political Affairs, German Embassy in Nigeria, said the workshop is only one aspect of the project ICIR is carrying out with the support of the German government.
Earlier in his opening remark, Executive Director, ICIR, Mr Dayo Aiyetan, said Nigeria as a country is facing a peculiar problem that was necessitated by the advent of internet. According to him, fake news in internet and social media has had adverse effect on public peace and security.
He said “We have seen instances where misinformation has destabilised cities, economy, and even ruined organisations.
“We also know the importance of what we do as journalists. That is why we empower journalists with capacity to do their journalism well and for the information out there to be safer for not just Nigerians but also outsiders that deals with Nigerians.
“We understand the fact that we have to engage the media who are the people that liaise with the people both rich and poor and disseminate information to the public.
Speaking further, Mr Aiyetan, who was represented by the Editor, FactCheckHub, Opeyemi Kehinde, said the training was a chance for young journalists to learn and unlearn; and advance their knowledge and skill to grow professionally.
He expressed optimism that journalists will at the end of the training not only have acquired an advanced verification skills, but be an advocate of fact checking culture not in Journalism alone, but also in other environments.
The journalists were drilled on fact-checking, image & video verification, social media monitoring, understanding phishing scams, among many others.