CrossCheck Nigeria, a collaborative platform for media organisations to combat fake news and misinformation, especially on social media, has been launched.
No fewer than 15 news outlets from the print, electronic and online media are participating in the project inaugurated in Lagos on Wednesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the participating media will be fighting fake news through a website (www.crosschecknigeria.com), which was activated at the occasion.
These are NAN, The Guardian, Punch, Daily Trust, The Sun, Tribune, Thisday and The Nation.
Others are Channels Television, Freedom Radio, Premium Times, The Cable, Sahara Reporters, International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) and Agence France-Presse (AFP).
CrossCheck Nigeria is aimed at checking the threat of misinformation and fake news before, during and after the 2019 general elections.
It was initiated by First Draft, a United Kingdom based organisation battling misinformation globally, and would be coordinated by the ICIR.
Speaking at the inauguration, Executive Director of ICIR, Dayo Aiyetan, described misinformation as a huge threat to the nation's democracy.
Aiyetan said that the menace is an "existential threat" to the journalism profession, not only in Nigeria, but around the world.
He noted that the Internet has made the problem more challenging, considering the speed at which fake news spread on social media.
According to him, this calls for action by professional media organisations to acquire the digital skills required to effectively check the menace.
The ICIR boss noted that the CrossCheck Nigeria project was crucial because media organisations would make more impact working together than making solo efforts.
The Lagos State Commissioner for information and Strategy, Mr Kehinde Bamigbetan, said at the inauguration that journalists have a responsibility to counter fake news with accurate and factual reports.
To this end, Bamigbetan stressed the need for the media stakeholders to uphold the traditional journalism standard of information verification and fact-checking before dissemination.
The Managing Director of First Draft, Ms Jenni Sergent, who unveiled the website, said Nigerians could log onto the platform and post suspicious pictures, videos and other information they wanted verified.
A discussion panel made up of editors and media executives expressed worry over the increasing menace of fake news especially on social media.
The discussants include a member of the Editorial Board of The Guardian, Mr Martins Oloja; publisher of The Niche newspaper, Mr Ikechukwu Amaechi, and the Senior Editor, Channels TV, Ms Ronke Raji.
Both Oloja and Amaechi noted that the social media were especially guilty in the spread of fake news.
They enjoined journalists to strive for credibility at all times if the mainstream media must remain in business. (NAN