FAAPA trains African countries on fact-checking to stem fake news

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By Isaac Aregbesola

The Atlantic Federation of African Press Agencies (FAAPA) has urged journalists across the continent to combat information disorder and fake news in the society through fact-checking.

Mr Fouad Arif, the President of FAAPA and Director-General of Agence Marocaine De Presse (MAP), gave the charge at the opening of a training seminar themed: ”Fact-checking: Detection of fake news in media content” in Rabat Morocco.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 23 journalists from different News Agencies across Africa were selected for the one week seminar.

The training was organised by Fédération Atlantique des Agences de Presse Africaines (FAAPA) in collaboration with Bank of Africa and Royal Air Maroc.

The president said the challenges of disinformation and misinformation by whatever form made fact-check imperative.

Arif underscored the timeliness of the chosen theme, stressing  FAAPA’s commitment to fostering skill development and fostering exchange among African journalists on issues pertinent to the media profession.

‘’To combat the phenomenon of fake news, which takes increasingly worrying dimensions, journalists from press agencies in African countries must be vigilant in the process of collection, processing and dissemination of information, through the application of fact-finding techniques, which have become essential.

Participants at the seminar on fact checking organiszd by FAAPA for African News Agencies in Rabat Morocco

’In this context, they must attach fundamental importance to the exchange of experiences, the sharing of know-how, to cope as credible sources of information to new challenges and the phenomenon of fakes news, a real scourge for the media sector.’’

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Arif expressed optimism that the seminar would catalyze the establishment of an active network of fact-checkers within the pan-African federation.

According to him, this network will play a pivotal role in implementing rigorous verification techniques across member newsrooms, enhancing collaboration within FAAPA.

‘’I hope that this training seminar is successful and results in the creation of a network of Fact-Checkers  with the aim of promoting the intensification of exchanges of information and experience in this area and strengthen coordination to fight against fake news and demystify disinformation.’’

He also outlined the broader objective of the initiative, which seeks to create a specialized platform for verifying information and multimedia content.

He stated that, additionally, plans are underway to develop a comprehensive fact-checking guide tailored to African press agency journalists.

A facilitator, Xavier Messé A Tiati, a Cameroonian journalist and media expert, lauded FAAPA’s choice of theme.

He stressed the urgency for journalists to acquire the latest fact-checking techniques, particularly in light of the rapid dissemination of false information facilitated by social media and the internet.

“This training is timely, given the sensitivity of the issue at hand. Journalists are constantly exposed to false news spread with alarming speed and precision by clandestine actors,” Tiati said.Mr Fouad       Mr Fouad Arif, the President of FAAPA and Director-General of Agence Marocaine De Presse (MAP)(Right) and Mr Isaac Aregbesola of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) during  a seminar on fact-checking, organised by FAAPA for some African News Agencies in Rabat, Morocco

Mr Jean Ndadula, a facilitator from the Congolese Press Agency, said information and data were key in news reporting and that journalists must at all times verify such information, as it is the first step  in fact checking.

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Nadudula urged journalists to eliminate biases, diversifying and using multiple credible sources, distinguish between facts and opinion or facts and fiction and also apply journalistic curiosity or common sense.

Tilado Abga, Editor in Chief Agency du Burkina also a facilitator, harped on the need to checkmate the proliferation of fake news with its colossal damage on the conventional media sector.

He added that the only way for the conventional media to regain its lost power, credibility and glory to social media is through fact checking

Abga said that the emergence of information disorder posed a grave threat to the media foundation, sowing seeds of doubt, division, and distrust.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that anticipated outcomes of the seminar include the establishment of a FAAPA-affiliated network of fact-checkers.

Others are tasked with sharing best practices and bolstering fact-checking initiatives within African newsrooms, this network is poised to strengthen media integrity across the continent.

Countries being represented at the training are Nigeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Congo RD, Congo, Côte D’ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, and  Guinea Bissau.

Others are Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra leone, and Togo. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)


Edited by Halima Sheji

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