The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has partnered with Africa Check to train grassroots journalists in the South Nyanza region on how to spot and debunk false information even as the country prepares for the August General Election.
Speaking during the two-days training, MCK Senior Officer for Research, Planning and Strategy, Jacob Nyongesa said the public is suspicious of media reports because they sometimes do not report factual information and therefore, journalists have a duty to give credible, verifiable and factual information to the public.
“When you get content that you do not know its source, do not plagiarize. If you need to use it, verify it and also attribute to the owner,” said Nyongesa.
The Senior Officer pointed out that it is very important that journalists debunk false political information in the region with facts to ensure they don’t escalate issues of violence or agitate the public.
In addition, he encouraged the media houses to develop social media policies that guide what should be posted on their social media platforms during the electioneering period.
According to the State of the Media Survey Report (2021) by MCK, 24% of Kenyans had little or no trust in the media, while another 23% have a lot of trust in the media. At least 53% of Kenyans had some trust with the media, showing skepticism with media content.
Africa Check Kenya Country Editor, Alphonce Shiundu said journalists need to acquire the right skills to expose political propaganda and stop the cycle of misinformation and disinformation, not only in their platforms but also on social media, family WhatsApp groups and face-to face communication.
Shiundu noted they had conducted several trainings within Nairobi city and were now targeting journalists at the grassroots level because they are the first point of call when people at the grassroots level are looking for information.
“The training is showing them the tools and exposing them to some of the sources of credible information. Journalists need the skills to understand how merchants of false information package their information so that they can counter misinformation and disinformation that happens,” he added.
This training is part of a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed between the Media Council of Kenya and Africa Check in 2019 to fact check and combat false information in the country.
The partnership provides a framework for areas of partnership including identifying and debunking fake news, training of journalists on dealing with misinformation and assisting media houses to set up fact checking desks.
Africa Check is a fact-checking organization which identifies important public statements, interrogates the best available evidence and publishes fact-checking reports to guide public debate.
The organization is based in four African countries including Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa and has over 100 fact-checkers who interrogate serious policy-related claims about health, the economy, education and electoral politics, as these directly affect people’s lives.
By Mercy Osongo