Dubawa begins 6-month fact-checking fellowship for Nigerian journalists

In a bid to curb the menace of misinformation and disinformation in Nigeria and beyond, the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), through its fact-checking project, Dubawa, has commenced its 6-month fact-checking fellowship for Nigerian Journalist.

In collaboration with Heinrich Böll Foundation, Dubawa held it’s 4-day training for the 5 selected journalists at the Barcelona hotel, Abuja between Monday, April 29 and Thursday, May 2.

Dubawa is Nigeria’s first Independent verification and fact-checking platform initiated by the PTCIJ, to help in amplifying the culture of truth in public discourse, public policy and media practice.

In her welcome address, The Programme Officer and Editor, Dubawa, Ebele Oputa disclosed that the fellows were selected from 58 Nigerian journalists from different media organisations that applied for the fellowship.

“This training was carefully designed to provide, not just a one-directional training for the fellows but to encourage engaging conversations between the trainers and the fellows, so that the right approaches to solving the information disorder problem in Nigeria can be attained.

I am particularly optimistic because this training is the start of a larger plan of instituting a culture of fact-checking in Nigeria. Our Fellows come from News Agency of Nigerian (NAN), Nigerian Tribune, Guardian, Business Day and The Nation, top media organisations in Nigeria with wide reach, and they are expected to train their colleagues and help set up fact-checking desks in their newsrooms at the end of the 6-month fellowship. Imagine the impact of this on the media landscape in Nigeria.”

The Executive Director of PTCIJ, Mr Dapo Olorunyomi charges the journalists on accountability and the need to uphold public trust at all time.

According to him, “Fact-checking journalism’s first obligation is to the truth and its first loyalty is to citizens.

“It is not the truth in the absolute or philosophical or scientific sense but rather a pursuit of truths by which we can operate on a day-to-day basis.

“In an age without gatekeepers, the need for judgment has become paramount and this is the case for news literacy because what information to believe and which sources to trust have become even more prominent.

“We need urgent mechanisms to sort the truth as the truth itself has come into peril.”

One of the resource persons, Mr Gbemiga Ogunleye, the Provost of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), who was represented by Mrs Maureen Popoola, tasked the fellows on gaining the trust of the masses through ethical conduct.

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“Truth is the cornerstone of journalism and every journalist should strive diligently to ascertain the truth of every event.

“To earn and maintain this trust, it is morally imperative for every journalist and every news medium to observe the highest professional and ethical standards.

“In the exercise of these duties, a journalist should always have a healthy regard for the public interest,” she said.

The fellows were taken through series of intensive training on data usage and verification, social media hacks and tools, usage of the Freedom of Information Act for journalists and Journalism ethics and morals.

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