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Africa Check trains Nigerian journalists to become fact-checkers

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Africa’s first non-partisan, non-profit fact-checking organisation, Africa Check, in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute Journalism, has trained 18 select mid-level journalists at a two-day fact-checking workshop sponsored by the United State Embassy in Nigeria.

The workshop which held in Lagos on Thursday and Friday (22 and 23 February 2018) covered a range of master classes on research skills, data journalism and fact-checking. These include fact-checking key claims, to spotting internet hoaxes and doctored images, and working with data on crime, health, education, public opinion and other topics.

The participants were specifically trained on how to fact-check claims and promises made by politicians in preparation for the general elections in Nigeria coming up in 2019.

Speaking at the workshop, the Provost of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Gbemiga Ogunleye, who was represented by the institute’s Head of Department, General Studies, Dr Dele Omojuyigbe, said the workshop could not have come at a better time in this era of disinformation, misinformation, alternative facts or outright fabrication.

“As journalists, we should be worried that our profession is fast losing public respect and trust as a result of publication or broadcast of fake news,” Ogunleye said.

He added that embracing fact-checking is a return to the “good old ways of ethical and responsible journalism.”

The Managing Editor, Online and Social Publications, The Nations Newspaper, Lekan Otufodunrin, urged the participants to make the best use of the opportunity to add to their media skills set.

“Being a journalist in 2018 and beyond will require more than the way we have always sourced and disseminated information. We will need to master new skills like fact-checking to remain relevant and be able to function as a multimedia journalist in and out of full-time employment considering the changing media landscape,” Otufodunrin said.

The workshop was facilitated by Africa Check’s Nigeria Editor, David Ajikobi; Deputy Provost of Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Dr Jide Johnson, a lecturer at the institute, Maureen Popoola, and the Research & Community Manager of Africa Check, Allwell Okpi.

The participants, who were drawn from leading newspapers, online news websites, radio and TV stations received certificates of completion at the end of the workshop and were added to a mailing list of alumni of Africa Check training. They will get occasional emails with tips on latest developments in the world of fact-checking to keep them up-to-date in sorting facts from fiction, fake news and online misinformation.

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