Nigeria: Dubawa Sends Forth 2020 Fact-Checking Fellows

25 February 2021

The six-month fellowship is inspired by the need to tackle the menace of misinformation and disinformation in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and beyond.

Nigeria's independent fact-checking platform, Dubawa, will on Friday graduate fellows in its 2020 cohort.

The fellowship would wind down in an end of fellowship event and award dinner slated to hold at Ibeto Hotels, Abuja, on Friday, February 26.

Under the auspices of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), the outgoing cohort is the second since the platform initiated the fellowship in 2019.

The six-month fellowship, inspired by the need to tackle the menace of misinformation and disinformation in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and beyond, started in July 2020 and came to an end in January 2021.

The fellowship was organised for journalists in new media platforms (online blogs), radio and TV stations in Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone with the aim of providing an opportunity for analytic, dedicated and innovative journalists to research and write truth-based and factual stories; and also to institute a culture of fact-checking in newsrooms across Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone.

At the dinner and award ceremony, some fellows would be awarded based on their performance throughout the fellowship.

Speaking on the fellowship, the Executive Director, PTCIJ, Dapo Oloruntomi, said the influence the fellowship has had on newsrooms and institutions is gratifying and this proves journalism lives on.

He said, "One finds it extremely gratifying that fact-checking is now gaining grounds and deepening in Nigerian newsrooms. It is even far more interesting that colleges are increasingly integrating fact-checking as a component of their journalism training so we welcome that and see that both Dubawa and particularly the fellows' programme have become an important and influential contribution to helping the amplification of and to debunk inaccuracies and misinformation as well disinformation in the polity and in our policy-making as well as in the media.

"In the past 1 year or so, we have found the Dubawa fellowship programme extremely helpful in propagating accurate information, helping to strengthen the footprints of truth in the protection of public health through first our participation in the WHO Alliance, the work we do in collaboration with the NCDC and of course generally our little contribution in helping fight the infodemic as it were. This is one more evidence that journalism is alive, it can bring great consequence, it can help to improve not only the context of accurate policy-making but it can definitely strengthen communities, it can strengthen policymaking and then strengthen democracy in the final analyses."

The programme officer, Dubawa Ghana, Caroline Anipah, described the 2020 fellowship, which was the maiden edition in Ghana, as timely, exciting and productive.

"The 2020 Dubawa fellowship which happens to be the maiden edition in Ghana, has been very exciting, productive and largely successful. In Ghana, it came at a time when the country was preparing for a historical and highly competitive election - one between a sitting and former president - and expected to be characterised by misinformation and disinformation. With the effort and contribution of our fellows, Dubawa was able to meet the 'fake news' which circulated head-on."

She appreciated the fellows for their commitment and contribution.

In the same vein, the Programme Manager Research and Capacity Development unit of PTCIJ, Adedeji Adekunle, acknowledged the efforts of the fellows in this short period of time and looks forward to more achievements.

"This dinner brings to close months of learning, growth and journalistic adventure for the fellows. Taken leadership in their organisations in the fight to enshrine truthful and factual dialogue in the public space. We look forward to what they go on to do in the future. The research fellows have helped to lay a foundation for knowledge in the misinformation ecosystem in West Africa and I am proud of what they were able to achieve in just a few months."

The 2020 Dubawa fellowship was sponsored by Henrich Boell Stifung Foundation and National Endowment for Democracy.

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