For the Love of Factchecking…

For the Love of Factchecking…

Throughout last week, DUBAWA staff (a project under the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism) spent their days training over 50 journalists from two newsrooms (Daily Trust and News Agency of Nigeria) on the theory and practise of factchecking. Factchecking, they claim, is fundamental to the practice of journalism and is necessary for strengthening the ideals of democracy. And they cannot be closer to the truth!

For the news industry which has long fallen from the high horses of integrity and truth, factchecking presents a return to the traditional tenets of accountability and credible reporting. Reporters armed with factchecking skills are now better equipped and more informed on the need to VERIFY information before it is pushed for public consumption. By so doing, there would be less false information in circulation and journalists would once again play the dual role of watchdogs for the people, and bulldogs for erring politicians, and by extension public figures.

Conscious of the 24-hour cycle of news reporting, journalists were trained to not only verify information before publication, but to also factcheck upon publication. So here’s how it works: After the newstory is out, journalists would conduct extensive research on the information contained in the story and produce another newstory that tells whether the information in the first story is true or false based on available information. In the end, reporters retain their jobs, true information replaces false information, politicians tell less lies and the public become more informed.

Although the training is for newsrooms and it hopes to extend to others in the coming weeks, the average Nigerian is not left out. DUBAWA on its website, tells you how to conduct your own individual factchecks without waiting for journalists. Afterall you are the consumer of fake news and you need to guard yourselves from all appearances of falsehood.

So for the few who may be wondering whether to check out DUBAWA, here’s a summary of some tips to conduct factchecks on videos (probably mainly shared on whatsapp):

  • Be skeptical. Approach all videos you receive on social media with a pinch of salt.
  • Think critically and check to see whether the video has it been reported in the media or seems obviously doctored.
  • Look for inflammatory language because if the video uses slurs or demeaning language, there’s a good chance that the accompanying text is only a partial or misleading version of the full story.
  • See if the details of the video change depending on the sharer. If one post claims a video takes place in one country while another say it doesn’t, that should cause some pause.
  • Alternately, take a screenshot of the video and upload it to a reverse image search service such as Google and TinEye to give you a better clue as to whether or not it’s true.
  • If the video takes place outside, use geolocation software to check whether it’s actually where it claims to be. Google Earth and Wikimapia, a user-annotated collection of satellite imagery, are good tools for this.
  • If all else fails, try doing a quick search for some keywords related to the video on YouTube.

For the full information and more, head out to www.dubawa.org!

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