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North West: DefyHateNow equips media practitioners with Fact-checking skills

Forty media practitioners from the North West and South West regions of Cameroon who were selected as fellows of the 7th Cohort of the African Fact-checking Fellowship (AFF) have been equipped with necessary fact-checking tools to use as they go about their reporting. 

The three-day onsite session which will last for three months online brought together journalists, bloggers, content creators, and civil society organizations as they acquired knowledge on basic fact-checking tools, countering Misinformation, Disinformation, Misinformation, and fake news online. 

The Country Project Manager for DefyHateNow, Ngala Desmond in an interview with The Safeguard said the main reason for bringing these people together is for them to be able to share accurate information.

"The first reason for this coming together was actually to get media people, people from the civil society be them journalists, content creators, bloggers, vloggers. To be able to create and share verifiable information, that is accurate that they can share and help people to take the right decisions at every moment. We are in Bamenda for the cohort that is covering the North  West and South West at a time when the crisis is still on in these regions. We are having on both sides of the coin is and dis information which is still very current and the goal we are here today to do is to push people to go beyond the borders of what they do within mainstream journalism. To be able to verify information which is one of the basic things we think journalists should be able to do", he said.

"But also we are here to engage civil society actors, media men and women to be able to challenge themselves and say that they will not just share as received but they are going to for the first on-site meeting of this Cohort, they are going to make sure that information that comes to them does not just go out without passing through the main steps of verifying and putting it online. This is not only for the online web but it's for print, it's for TV, it's radio, and it is for everybody sharing information out there. And we believe that in the coming days the training must have served the last two sessions that are coming should have served as a basement for appropriate work to be done within the region as far as information verification is concerned".

He expects fellows to put into practice the knowledge acquired during this session.

"Practice makes perfect, they should pick up lessons that we would be sharing with them and those we have already shared and practice them within their media houses but also that they should be a change of perception and mentality at the level of their newsrooms and their organizations. People should not just go back and remain within the same context of what they used to do before coming to this training but we should also see a shift between what they used to do and what they are doing nowadays. We also expect that fellows leave this training transformed and they would be agents of information and not misinformation because like we say, information saves and misinformation kills."

Moma Sandrine is one of the fellows and expresses her reason for applying to be part of this Cohort.

"I would say it was more than an exciting time for me to have checked my email and see that I was selected for this fellowship. I wanted to be part of this fellowship because as a journalist there are times when I  get information especially pictures or videos online and I'm not sure if the source I might tend to ask colleagues if it's true or not. Sometimes they respond other times they might ignore your message. So to be able to identify if a picture is true or false, if a video was taken at a particular place at a particular time, or what story was behind that video or picture. I decided to apply for this fellowship and I'm so grateful because I have already started learning the tools which I can use to verify information, to check if a picture or video is true and I think it's going to go a long way in my career as a journalist because I aspire to become an investigative journalist so I'm more than happy to be part of this trip", she said.

Ndum Charlotte, a youth leader, an adolescent girl, and young women advocate and a girl's rights advocate states the impact the three-day session will have on her work.

"I came to this workshop in the capacity of representing a civil society organization (Dreams reality Transformers) 
What I have learned here, to tell the truth, it's been very invaluable. So I have learned how I can fact-check the information that I see online, and publications that I see online, it's not just something that is going to be very useful for journalists but myself as a youth leader as someone who publishes things on social media space, who has a network of youths and other things. It's going to help me in my work and it's going to help me in my advocacy especially. So I have learned a lot of things with regards to tools on social media, how I can verify if the information is true or false and how it should probably interact on social media, responsible use of social media, and all of that. Those are the major things is have learned and I am going to make do with all that I have learned in a very positive way, I am going to start implementing it as of today." Charlotte said.

The African Fact-checking Fellowship has as aims to promote fact-checking, data journalism, and digital rights to journalists, bloggers, and content creators in Africa while equipping fellows with skills and tools to use while addressing the challenge of fake news in their regions of operation.

By Tantan Patience F.

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