Fake News: NITDA trains 40 journalists on digital journalism, fact-checking



 National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has trained 40 media practitioners and social media influencers on digital journalism and fact- checking, to stem the tide of fake news.

The Head, Corporate Affairs of the Agency, Hajiya Hadiza Umar, said in her opening remarks at the event in Birnin Kebbi on Friday that the agency was committed to the expansion of the digital space.

She said that the two-day capacity building workshop, with the theme “Digital Journalism, Media Ethics and Fact Check” would help to promote robust, digital-based journalism that served the best and wider interest of the nation.

Umar said that the aim of the workshop was for the practitioners to learn how to do fact-checks to help them to do due diligence on any information that came to them.

This, according to her, is part of their efforts to help stem the tide of fake news.

She said the NITDA had identified developmental regulation, digital transformation, digital literacy and skills, promotion of indigenous content, among the seven strategic pillars crucial to the development of the digital economy.

Umar said,” In putting this crucial event together, we are thankful to the Image Merchants Promotion Ltd (IMPR), the Penlight Centre for Investigative Journalism, Khadimiyya Foundation, for their collaboration as our usual partners in progress.

“There is no doubting the fact that we are in the digital age where everything is now based on computers and the internet.

“It is of interest to us, therefore, that our journalists take advantage of the available digital tools to do their jobs better and serve the country better.”

Umar, represented by the Project Manager of Penlight Centre, Malam Dahiru Lawal, identified overbearing presence of social media as one the challenges the digital era came up with.

“Of course, the unregulated social media is a free market place where anything and everything goes.

“Fake news, toxic contents, hateful stuff, divisive and inciting narratives are prevalent in there because there are no gatekeepers or regulators to direct traffic.

“The theme of this year’s workshop is therefore very apt and timely,” she said.

Umar enjoined the participants to deepen their knowledge of social media management which, she said, would help them tap from the good of social media and avoid its pitfalls.

While presenting his paper, Dr Mansur Buhari, from Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, identified misapplication of the journalistic Race Against Time (RAT) as one of the reasons for the rapid spread of disinformation and misinformation in Nigeria.

“One of the reasons for the rapid spread of disinformation and misinformation in Nigeria is the misapplication of the journalistic race against time even by supposedly trained journalists who want to be first to break the news with just half of the picture,” he said.

According to him, the lack of patience and resilience to get the whole picture before disseminating information has embarrassed so many big journalists.

Cross- section of the participants when interviewed, expressed delight about the workshop and thanked NITDA for their efforts in the fight against fake news.

NAN reports that Lawal presented a paper on online fact-checking, media monitoring and search engine optimisation at the workshop. (NAN)