Over 50 journalists from radio, TV, print and online media in Uganda have completed a course on fact-checking.
The virtual training which was held on 18, 19 and 20th August 2021, is part of the freedom of expression programme being implemented by the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME), in partnership with the Ford Foundation.
The programme seeks to strengthen the response to the growing hostility towards media and threats to freedom of expression in Uganda.
In his opening remarks, ACME’s Manager for Communication and Advocacy, Apolo Kakaire noted that with the onset of Covid-19, it has become more important than ever for journalists to provide the public with accurate information, considering the flood of false information surrounding the pandemic.
“This means that journalists must be equipped with skills, knowledge and tools in fact-checking. Therefore, there is no better time than now, to hold this training,” he said.
“ACME is committed to and will continue supporting mid-career journalists in reporting accurately.”
The lead facilitator, Benon Oluka from the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) took the participants through several topics such as; the past practice and present-day dynamics of fake news; distinguishing what to fact-check and what not to, handling prejudices, spotting misinformation; steps to follow in a simple fact-checking process, among others.
Journalists left the training better equipped to deal with dis/misinformation in all its forms. Special attention was given to the different tools that journalists can use to verify different forms of information such as text, images, videos websites, locations, and social media accounts, among others.
Alex Ashaba, a journalist with Daily Monitor said the training came at the right time, “considering the Covid-19 pandemic came with a serious wave of misinformation that we have to deal with on a daily basis.”
“The skills gained in this course will help me to discern the difference between what is fake and what is real. For example, there are times when you receive a video and cannot tell whether it is fake or real. But with tools such as video vault, which our facilitator demonstrated, I will be able to verify,” he said.
Kirabo Irene from Cloudz FM, Fort Portal said she learnt that one way to verify the information is to reach out to experts and official websites to get the real facts. “I’ve also learnt that social media is not the ultimate source of information. I have to fact check all the information I receive through social media platforms.”
Similarly, Catherine Namugerwa from BBS Terefayina said the training was eye-opening. “There are many free tools for fact-checking, therefore there is no excuse not to use them.”
The training was attended by journalists, editors, talk show hosts and producers from both rural and urban-based media platforms.