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Ugandan Media Talent Hub To Train Reporters On Debunking ‘Fake News’

The Media Challenge Initiative, a youth-driven nonprofit based in Kampala said Tuesday that  it has partnered with  UNESCO and Africa Check to “create a new army of fact-checkers able to expose false claims” through capacity building.

A Ugandan media talent hub says it’s training 50 young journalists in fact-checking as a way of creating a network of scribes who will address the “looming threat” of fake news.

The Media Challenge Initiative, a youth-driven nonprofit based in Kampala said Tuesday that  it has partnered with  UNESCO and Africa Check to “create a new army of fact-checkers able to expose false claims” through capacity building.

“The goal from the training is to create a new army of fact-checkers able to expose false claims, as well as exaggerated or half-true claims and clarifying the truth to audiences,” the media challenge said.

The group says the Coronavirus pandemic has exposed the threat of  half-truths and led to the  the rise of what the World Health Organization termed as “infodemics”.

“The impact of half-truths, hoaxes and misleading information ranges from the misapplication of funds and poor policymaking to misdiagnosis and even violence and death. Misinformation can spread quickly – often faster than factual information,” the organization said.

The two-day online training will start with the current class of Media Challenge Fellows, the top 26 upcoming young journalists selected from different Universities across the country.

A second training, which is slated for August will feature 25 reporters from different media houses in Uganda who have gone through the fellowship program.

After the training, participants will produce original radio and TV shows “debunking” the most prevalent misinformation around Covid-19 in Uganda.

Their projects will be broadcast on MCI’s youth radio platform, MCI Radio.

“The biggest challenge in the media industry today and in the next decades is going to be dealing with fake news in all its forms. This means that the next generation of journalists must be equipped with skills, knowledge and tools in fact checking and verification in order to fight the infodemic and that is what makes this training very timely,” says Abaas Mpindi, the group’s Chief Executive.

“We are grateful for the support from UNESCO for this training and excited that Africa Check, the continent’s leading independent, nonpartisan fact-checking organisation has agreed to lead the training,” he said.

Carina van Wyk, the head of education and training at TRi Facts, Africa Check’s training, research and information unit notes that “the flood of false information that accompanies this global pandemic, it’s becoming more and more important to provide the public with accurate information to base their decisions on.”

“Since the media plays a vital role in this and fact-checkers can’t fight the spread of false information on their own, I’m looking forward to sharing our fact-checking skills and tools with Ugandan journalists and journalism students,” she said.