The Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), has reiterated the need for journalists across the country to ensure accuracy and accountability in the reportage of events.

The Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), has reiterated the need for journalists across the country to ensure accuracy and accountability in the reportage of events.

Mr Dapo Olorunyomi, the Executive Director of PTCIJ gave the charge during a four-day prerequisite training organised by the centre for five maiden Dubawa Fellows on Thursday in Abuja.

Dubawa is Nigeria’s first independent verification and fact checking platform initiated by the centre to help enhance the culture of truth in public discourse, policy, and journalism practice.

The Fellows were selected from 58 Nigerian journalists from different media organisations that applied for the Fellowship.

Olorunyomi said the objective of Dubawa was to empower Nigerians with tools and resources required to make rational decisions.

“The vision is to deploy capacity building, technology and data to strengthen fact-checking and accountability in journalism in Newsrooms across Nigeria.

“It is also to scale up our platform to serve as a repository of factual and truth-based information in Nigeria.”

According to him, Fact-Checking is the act of checking factual assertions in non-fictional text in order to determine the veracity and correctness of the factual statements in the text.

“Its primary objective is to provide accurate, unbiased analysis of statements in order to correct public misperceptions and increase knowledge of important issues.

“ It does not report an event but the claims made at the event to ascertain the accuracy of the claims.

“Fact-checking deepens the capacity of your audience to always believe you, it helps to give value to your story because in journalism, what is true today may be false tomorrow,’’ he said.

Olorunyomi said that the ethics of journalism rest on two pillars, integrity and credibility.

“Media credibility is built on accuracy and the integrity of stories they report, so we should worry about social media because their stories provide velocity, volume and veracity’’.

Miss Ebele Oputa, the Project Officer/Editor of the centre, while giving an overview of the Fellowship programme said the four-day training which was a prerequisite for full Fellowship was aimed at improving the Fellows’ knowledge of fact-checking and getting them well acquainted with the process.

“The aim of this training is to institute a culture of fact-checking in newsrooms across Nigeria by helping to set up fact-checking desks at the end of the Fellowship.

“It is carefully designed to provide, not just a one-directional training for the Fellows, but to encourage engaging conversations between the trainers and the Fellows, so that the right approaches to solving the information disorder problem in Nigeria can be attained’’.

“The training will help them to understand the consequences of ‘information disorder’ for journalists, and the societies they serve”.

“Our Fellows come from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Tribune, Guardian, Business Day and The Nation, among other top media organisations in Nigeria with wide reach.

“The Fellows are expected to train their colleagues and help set up fact-checking desks in their newsrooms at the end of the 6-month fellowship. Imagine the impact of this on the media landscape in Nigeria”.

Mrs Maureen Popoola, a lecturer with the Nigeria Institute of Journalism {NIJ) and also one of the resource persons at the training admonished urged participants to always ensure professionalism which she said was the cornerstone of a journalism practice.

“Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information in the interest of the public.

“An ethical journalist should act with integrity and also strive to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough.

“Always seek the truth and report, minimise harm, act independently and be accountable and transparent.”

According to her, to earn and maintain this trust, it is morally imperative for every journalist and every news medium to observe the highest professional and ethical standards.

“Truth is the cornerstone of journalism and every journalist should strive diligently to ascertain the truth of every event.

“In the exercise of these duties, you should always have a healthy regard for the public interest,’’ Popoola advised.

NAN reports that the Fellows were trained on new concepts of fact-checking and how to contribute to solving the problem of misinformation in Nigeria.

The Fellows after the intensive and robust training session, agreed to be good ambassadors of the Dubawa Fellowship and advocated that social media platforms and individuals should be held accountable for the stories they post.

The participants were presented certificates at the end of the training.

Get more stories like this on Twitter & Facebook

AD: To get thousands of free final year project topics and other project materials sorted by subject to help with your research [click here]