It is against this backdrop that fourteen Gambian journalists drawn from different media outlets are being trained on fact-checking amid surge in new media platforms.
The 3-day fact-checking training is designed to arm Gambian journalists with the requisite skills to verify and counter misinformation, disinformation and malinformation before publication and/or broadcast to the public.
The event is being organised by ‘Dubawa’, a fact checking and verification platform that Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) has promoted for over three years.
It is envisage that after the training which was held at a local hotel in Kololi, journalists would be equipped to easily counter the spread of misinformation and disinformation, by influential audience within and outside the country.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Lamin Jahateh of the Gambia Press Union, underscored the important of the training, coming at a time when the Gambia heading for its general elections.
The training, he added, would arm participants with the requisite skills and knowledge to fact misinformation, disinformation and even mal-information especially in the era of information crisis.
“I consider you participants to be lucky to be part of this training. The Gambia is approaching a very crucial year and we need to look up to the media to fact-check some of the information that are coming out. But that task will be difficult if you don’t have the skills and tools and know how.” he added.
Dapo Olorunyomi, executive director of PTCIJ, acknowledged the fact that West African countries face and shared common problems making reference to trans-border problems.
He underscored the importance of the training further challenging participants to be dedicated and steadfast in fact checking.
He implored on all to respond to new threat facing nations, saying nations these days are being faced with information crisis that affects democracy in itself.
Also speaking, Oluwatosin Alagbe, programme director at PTCIJ, reminded that Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), is a media and innovation organisation founded to promote an independent media landscape in West Africa through investigative journalism, fact-checking, open data and civic technology.
“It was founded in 2014. PTCIJ is an off-shoot of the Premium Times online newspaper, a leading and well-known news provider in Nigeria today. Investigations and special reports published by Premium Times have exposed corruption in government and instigated policy reforms in Nigeria.” She added.
She informed that over the years, PTCIJ has set up different programmes and projects to achieve its vision of an independent media landscape.
“One of PTCIJ's projects is UDEME, a social accountability project designed to hold the government accountable for how funds released for capital, constituency and ecological projects are spent.”
John Charles Njie, chairman of Civil Society Organization in The Gambia and Madi Jobarteh of Westminster Foundation, both reminded participants of the herculean task that lies ahead especially in the era of information crisis.
Both challenged journalists to be agents of change and always try to be factual and accurate in their daily reporting.