By Buba Gagigo
The Gambia Press Union Vice President has told journalists that fact checking in elections should not be only limited to the claims by politicians but also their supporters and other groups or individuals to avoid misleading or manipulating the people.
Muhammed S. Bah made these remarks in his address to 30 participant journalists at the start of a three-day training on fact checking. The event was held on Monday at a local hotel in Senegambia.
“Fact-checking is a part of everyday journalism, but it is even more important that this culture of verification is entrenched during elections. Misinformation and disinformation (or fake news) comes in many forms, and it is important for journalists to identify and debunk them. Fact-checking in elections should not only be limited to what the political candidates say, but also deliberate attempts by their supporters and other groups or individuals to mislead or manipulate the people must be checked,” he said.
The training is meant to build the capacity of the journalists on fact-checking and debunking fake news in The Gambia.
The event also attracted the United Nations Peace and Development Adviser, UNESCO representative, among others.
Patrick McCarthy, the United Nations Peace and Development Adviser stated that the training is to provide journalists with the skills and tools they need to check and verify facts before publishing them.
“It will help journalists to debunk fake news in all its forms,” he added.
Lamin Jahateh, the UNESCO representative at the event hailed the timing of the training.
“This project is therefore very timely for The Gambia in view of the reasons that the country will be going to the polls soon. Knowing that elections and its attendant activities are high-stakes issues, UNESCO would like to not only wish the country best of luck but also to do things within its reach and guide this much cherished tenet of democracy,” he said.
The 3-day-training, which runs until 28th July [Wednesday], is part of a two-year project implemented by a consortium of UNESCO, UNDP and UNFPA in partnership with local implementing partners. It seeks to address the institutional barriers for young people, to strengthen youth capacity for engagement and participation in governance and leadership, and to address hate speech and counter fake news and misinformation of young people through. The training is inspired by the need to equip journalists and other media professionals with the needed skills to combat information disorder.