Nigeria’s independent fact-checking platform, Dubawa, in Abuja on Friday graduated 22 fact-checking fellows selected from Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone in its 2020 fellowship.
According to the platform’s programme officer, Temilade Onilede, 28 fellows began the six-month fellowship, now in its second installation, but 22 of them met the criteria for graduation.
The fellows were sent forth at a dinner held in Abuja on Friday, where some fellows were awarded for their exploits during the programme which spanned from July 2020 to January 2021.
A cross section of Dubawa 2020 fellows at Friday’s dinner in Abuja
Initiated in 2019, the fellowship is one of the flagship programmes of Dubawa, a project under the auspices of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), aimed at teaching newsrooms in new media platforms, radio and TV stations analytic, dedicated and innovative journalism to research and write truth-based and factual stories.
PREMIUM TIMES publisher, Dapo Olorunyomi, said the fellowship was inspired by the needing to tackle the menace of misinformation and disinformation in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and beyond. He added that it is the mandate of the programme to make fact-checking commonplace in the media space.
The editor of Dubawa, Kemi Busari, who took up the role in August 2020, commended the graduands, adding that the fellowship has brought “a lot of improvements in editing, in the writing of fellows and my interpersonal relationship. I must say I enjoyed the bit of every relationship with you all.”
A cross section of the Dubawa 2020 fact-checking fellows flanked by the Dubawa and PTCIJ teams.
He urged the fellows to continue fact-checking, and keep the torch of fact-checking burning by nurturing their colleagues who have not started.
Corroborating this, the PTCIJ programme manager, Tosin Alagbe, said “we are here to celebrate our second cohort of fellows whom we are incredibly proud of for their role in instituting the culture of fact-checking in their various newsrooms and producing media literacy and research work to enrich the existing body of knowledge about misinformation and disinformation in the region.”
Daily Trust reporter, Francis Iloani, clinched the best fellow award at the gala, in addition to emerging first runner-up in the Best Fact-check Award category with his piece: “Israel’s currency has Arabic inscription…Nigeria is not a secular state…” – Other claims by MURIC fact-checked”.
Sierra Leonean fellow, Alie Tarawally, won the best fact check award for his story ‘COVID-19 vaccine does not lead to penis enlargement,’ while Ghana-based fellow, Jonah Nyabor’s report ‘False; the Akufo-Addo government has NOT sent Ghana into HIPC‘ was also adjudged the second best fact-check.
Kunle Adebajo’s piece titled “Analysis: An Assessment of the Claims On ‘Christian Genocide’ In Nigeria” and Vivian Chime’s entry “God is Allah in Arabic bible…a christian introduced Arabic to Naira notes…” – Are these claims by MURIC true?” were adjudged joint fourth best fact check award.
The best research article was awarded to Raji Rasaki for his analysis on the ‘Impact of Fact-Checking Training on the Nigerian Journalists to mitigate the spread of mis/disinformation.”
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One of the fellows, Elfredah Kevin, told PREMIUM TIMES that the fellowship has deepened her ability to verify claims and has opened doors of opportunities for her.
“This fellowship brought several international opportunities to my doorstep. When I apply for grants to tell stories, I boldly tell them I am a fact-checking fellow of Dubawa, and upon hearing the word “fact-check” it gives them confidence that the story will be told with lots of fact checks on claims made by interviewees,” Mrs Kevin said.
For Uthman Samad, another fellow, he began to appreciate the essence of fact-checking when “I started doing it as a core beat.”
This, he said, offered him fresh ideas and helped him “learn new things more than what I do think I know.”
Kunle Adebajo said the fellowship has strengthened his verification skills. He praised the facilitators and editors of the programme, which he said was “generously incentivised.”
“I improved my ability to spot fake and suspicious claims, manner of presentation, and knowledge of various cognitive biases that aid the spread of misinformation. I pray the fellowship will continue for a long, long time so other journalists can benefit in the present and coming years,” Mr Adebajo noted.
Dubawa is a verification and fact-checking platform accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network.
The organisers of the event also said the third installation of the fellowship will kick off soon.