GIJN 2019: Absence of reliable data,biggest challenge of Africa fact checkers

AS the 11th Global Investigative Journalist Network conference proceeds in Hamburg, Germany, the challenges faced by fact-checkers, especially journalists in Africa were examined.

Fact-checking which is an act of in-depth verification of assertions (non-fiction) to establish the veracity and accuracy of the factual statements in a text, audio or video content over the years has become a specialised form of reporting in the media landscape in the world.

At the rate which fake news and disinformation are shared across social media platforms, it has become the duty of the journalist as a gatekeeper to monitor as well as debunk misleading information in the public space.

Samba Dialimpa, Editor-in-Chief at Africa Check at the 2019 GIJN fact check session pointed out that although fact-checking in West African nations is of great importance, the investigative journalist who is on a mission to debunk assertions- especially- made by political leaders often have to deal with the unavailability of reliable or credible statistics.

“When you do not have access to credible sources or data, it becomes very difficult to fact check claims that are being made.

    “And when you do find data, the credibility of such data is another issue. The methodology used in the collection of this data are things to be questioned to make sure it is not coming from someone with a propaganda he or she is pushing,” he said.

    Dialimpa also notes that with the help of certain verification tools, journalists are still able to carry out their investigations, however, he also pointed out some limitations of such tools.

    In the end, he said that the best tool that an African journalist still has is herself.

    “It is best to use different tools both technology and human resources as well. I think fact-checking is not all about technology.” 


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