The Media Academy for Journalism and Communications Thursday launched a 9-month project that seeks to train and educate 20 local journalists on how to gather news and demystify misinformation.
The project also aimed at strengthens Participatory Democracy through Media and Civil Society Organizations for training at the National Accreditation and Quality Assurance Authority.
Speaking at the launching held at the National Accreditation and Quality Assurance Authority headquarters, Sang Mendy, Managing Director of MAJaC said the project is “so dear to us at MAJaC because the world is grappling with information disorder and the Gambia is no exception.”
“Misinformation and disinformation have become the norm in the national political discourse. The project aims to strengthen citizens to actively participate in elections by giving the voters access to high quality electoral coverage by ensuring the news they produce and present or publish is fact-checked.
“To do this we will train 20 journalists on proactive news gathering, misinformation literacy, fact-checking, podcasting and how to use multimedia to reach a large audience and the training will run for four months,” he said.
“We will also conduct a three-month in-house training on the same areas for community and provincial media. This is to equip the staff of the community and provincial media to proactively perform their roles ahead of the elections. This I am convinced will amplify the voices of the voters and provide the local populations a reliable coverage in their local languages,” he added.
He said they will also train members of the civil society organizations for three months on how to use digital media to amplify their advocacy in a bid to have a better-informed voter population and this is to give the citizens a strong civic right to participate in elections.
Representing the Minister of Information, Ebrima Darboe, permanent secretary highlighted the importance of fact checking electoral promises amidst information disorder saying “ could not have come at a better time for the fact that the country is bracing up for an unprecedented and a unique political event later this year.”
He said in an era of “post truth”, fake news and propaganda, fact checking is more important than ever, adding that the citizens need access to reliable news, based on evidence particularly during the election campaigns, when the news agenda is dominated by claims, promises and accusations made by politicians and the candidates vying to replace.
He said the project will contribute in enhancing the capacity of men and women in the media and civil society in our drive to eliminate information and disinformation during the upcoming election cycle and keep the debate honest.
Nasirudeen who represented Gambia Press Union said journalists should know who to approach and who to get information from, saying that not everything should be aired, or broadcast and published.
Lars Moller, an international journalism trainer said: “The people need relevant information and not false information and the media should be critical to civil society organizations.”
The project is funded by the Danish organization, Civil society in development through the long term partners of the Gambia Media Support-GAMES.