Some journalists, activists and civil society organisations across the West African region are currently in Abuja to discuss and proffer solutions to the menace of fake news and mis/disinformation gaining a foothold in their countries.
The three-day event organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) will allow participants share tips and learn from the experiences of colleagues across the region on the challenges of fake news.
Fake news is currently a major challenge in Nigeria and other nations in Africa, especially with the increasing access to social media and the emergence of ‘citizen journalists’.
There’s also the ease and fluidity of circulating unverified information across various platforms, including online and offline spaces, which has worsened the trend.
Even though many news outlets have set up fact-checking arms like the PREMIUM TIMES Dubawa in an attempt to curb the spike in fake news, the trend has continued unabated.https://dubawa.org/
The journalists and civil society groups will deliberate on the challenges under the theme: Learning and experience sharing session on tackling fake news in West Africa.
The organisers say the sessions, which will be largely moderated by CDD, “will also draw heavily on participants experiences in their respective countries.”
“Select participants will be asked to provide brief presentations on some of the key themes mentioned above, but these will be designed to open up discussions to all participants in what is envisaged to be a co-learning environment, where knowledge is being shared between practitioners.”
The three objectives of the three-day capacity building sessions are: To improve the capacity of media and CSOs to tackle fake news; to discuss strategies for building public awareness and education efforts into broader governance agendas – such as elections and peacebuilding – both with governments and international development partners and donors and to establish a network of media and governance oriented CSOs working on stemming fake news and disinformation in West Africa.
It will also provide a platform for continued peer learning in the future.
“We envisage two core outputs of the capacity building workshop that will improve wider understanding of this issue and strengthen regional efforts among CSOs and media entities to tackle fake news.
“The development of a best practice guidance sheet, drawing on the discussions of the workshop – to be published in French and English – that can be a tool for CSOs and media houses across West Africa to use in their efforts to stem fake news.
“The creation of a network of media and governance oriented CSOs working on these issues, that will continue to share best practices and learnings. This will include the creation of an online forum for continued debate and discussion,” the organisers said.
Expected at the sessions to moderate, provide guidance and also submit positions are the host, Idayat Hassan, Director CDD-West Africa; Francis Oke, ECOWAS Commission; Jamie Hitchen, Lead Researcher, CDD-West Africa; Eyesan Okorodudu, ECOWAS Commission and Naziru Mikailu, Editor-in-Chief, Daily Trust Nigeria.
Others are Samba Dialimpa Badji, Africa Check, Senegal; Victoria Bamas, ICIR, Nigeria; Alhassan Ibrahim, CDD-West Africa; Stella Iyaji, Managing Editor, Daily Trust Newspaper; Ladji Django Masse, Convention des Organisations de la Civile pour observation Domestique, Des.
Sait Matty Jaw, Executive Director, Center for Research and Policy Development (CRPD), The Gambia; Yeama Sarah Thompson, Initiatives for Media Development (IMdev), Sierra Leone; Fiacre Kakpo, Togo First, Togo and Deji Abdulwahab, News Agency of Nigeria.
There will also be country presentations tagged: Context, Experiences and Responses to Fake News, where participants will discuss country-specific experiences on tackling fake news.