UNDP, IPC Train Journalists on Fact-Checking as iVerify Platform Sets for Take-off

UNDP, IPC Train Journalists on Fact-Checking as iVerify Platform Sets for Take-off

Politicians and candidates in the forthcoming off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states have been put on their toes on what information they give about themselves and their opponents. The International Press Centre (IPC) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have embarked on the training of Journalists in the three

Politicians and candidates in the forthcoming off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states have been put on their toes on what information they give about themselves and their opponents. The International Press Centre (IPC) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have embarked on the training of Journalists in the three states on fact-checking to curb and minimise the incidences of misinformation, disinformation and hate speech in their communication, photographs and videos.

The trainings are a prelude to the launch of a new fact checking platform known as iVerify which will be formally launched soon. It is a platform that will help to fact-check comments, photographs videos pushed into the public space as facts or manipulated to achieve undue advantage by misinforming and disinforming Nigerians. It is being sponsored by the UNDP but will be hosted and managed by the IPC.

Throwing more light on the initiative, the UNDP through Mr. Matthew Alao, the Team Leader, Governance, Peace building Unit of UNDP said the training has targeted 27 journalists in each of the states as beneficiaries of the training in addition to other stakeholders including the media crew of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“The main objective is to reduce the spate of misinformation, disinformation and hate speech around the election time”, Mr. Alao said adding, “the issue of misinformation, disinformation and hate speech characterised the 2023 general elections in significant way that was capable of distorting our socio-communal existence. As a result the UNDP felt there was a need to ensure the integrity in the information in circulation in Nigeria”.

The duo of Messrs Taiwo Obe and David Ajikobi served as resource persons at the two day capacity building on iVerify and fact-checking which took the 27 participants through the art of asking questions and fact-checking. Participants were told that they need to fact-check because people need access to accurate information to make informed decisions.

The capacity building session which was more of practical sessions saw the participants divided into different groups to engage in tasks which turned out rewarding and fruitful as participants at the end of the two days demonstrated fact-checking skills and learnt about tools for fact-checking. The facilitators gave a verdict that the participants were good to go and should go and deploy their newly acquired skills.

Executive Director of IPC Mr. Lanre Arogundade said IPC would facilitate more stakeholders’ engagement by securing the integrity of information landscape. IPC, he said is working with regulatory agencies like the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and others on the need to checkmate the merchants of misinformation, disinformation and hate speech in the country.

In his presentation, Dr. Emmanuel Mamman, Director, Conflict Prevention Management and Resolution, Institute For Peace & Conflict Resolution (IPCR) said the Institute is trying to talk to media practitioners that whenever they are trying to report issues,the bottom line should be that their report should not harm stressing :”their report should heal where there is wound. There report should mend and not tear apart, their report should build-up and not destroy”.

Participants react
Mrs. Grace Ben Kato, a senior reporter with the Kigi state Graphics newspaper who was one of the participants at the session said :” As a journalist, I have learnt to ensure I fact – check news before sharing to the media. It is my duty to give right information which will help the public make right decision.”

Mr. Julius Tabor, Daily Independent Newspaper said :”the two day workshop on iverify has become a watershed in my journalism career. The knowledge gained can’t be quantified in monetary terms as it has equipped me with the wherewithal to up into digital journalism . With the training on how to use various methods especially digital methods to authenticate stories, images, pictures, audio and visual, I can contribute meaningfully to resolving puzzles set up by fraudster, scammers would want to use media space to hoodwink their audience”.

Mr. Segun Ademola Salami ,Channels Television correspondent, in kogi state said my takeaway in the just concluded workshop is that it improves my communication skills and intelligence.

“I am now well informed on the importance of fact-checking stories or reports before they go on air or social media. I am now informed on the damages fake news can cause in our societies.

“I gained more knowledge, networking with others, and renewing motivation and confidence as I moved out to the field to carry out my duties. In fact, I am coming out with new techniques in the area of reporting, and all I have learnt during the workshop”, he said.

With these new “media detectives”, deployed to Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states at the pilot level and other recruits joining when it becomes a national programme, the days of misinformation, disinformation and hate speech are numbered in the country.

Below is the statement by IPC on fact-checking and the iVerify project

Fact-checking & electoral information integrity – IPC embarks on training of journalists in Kogi, Bayelsa & Imo States

About 80 journalists from the print, electronic and online media in Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo states have started receiving training on fact-checking to aid the credibility of electoral information as the States set to hold off-cycle governorship election on November 11, 2023.

The fact-checking workshops are kick-starting the iVerify project of the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos-Nigeria supported by the United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP).

27 male and female journalists from Kogi state participated in the first leg of the training in Abuja, FCT, on October 27 and 28, while another 27 from Bayelsa State are currently attending the workshop in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. 27 journalists from Imo State will be trained later in the week.

The focus of the presentations at the workshops are: The Art of questioning in Journalism & Being Detectives of Misinformation by Mr. Taiwo Obe, founder Journalism Clinic; Fact-checking of information to promote electoral integrity, by Mr. David Ajikobi, Nigerian Editor of Africa Check; Combating Electoral Information Disorder or Fake News – the INEC Experience by Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman and The Dangers of Information Disorder or Fake News to Peace Building & Conflict Resolution by Dr. Emmanuel Mamman, Director of Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution at the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution.

Addressing the Kogi and Bayelsa participants, Mr. Matthew Alao, Team Lead, Governance, Peace & Security of UNDP Nigeria said electoral disinformation and fake news in general are major threats to the ability of citizens to have the right information during electoral processes and elections, therefore also constituting threats to democracy.

IPC’s Programme Manager, Mrs. Stella Nwofia also said the iVerify project is enabling IPC to continue with its mission of promoting good journalism through best practises in ensuring factual accuracy of news. According to her, the objective of the training is to equip the journalists with the requisite skills and knowledge to enhance the integrity of information on the electoral processes in the respective states, especially the campaigns, the conduct of the Independent National Electoral Commission, and post-election democratic accountability and governance issues. The workshops are also building the skill of the journalists on how to use fact-checking tools for the purpose of combating the menace of false information during the electioneering period while also introducing them to the workings of the iVerify system and their likely role.

Media professional organisations collaborating with IPC on the iVerify project and who nominated some of the participants include the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP), and the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ).

Highlights of the workshops can be followed on IPC’s social media channels with the HASHTAG #VerifyBeforeYouShare.

E-Signed
Olutoyin Ayoade
Communications Officer, IPC
tayoade@ipcng.org

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