Why is it important to fact-check news?

People all over the World read and study from different sources. Be it experts in certain scientific studies, journals, books, internet searches, and/or news articles among other sources, people are always eager to study. But, most times, they are trying to have the truth and thus they ask “Would you tell me the truth? What are the facts of these statements?” The problem is assuring whether the information given is factual. This article is about tracking fake news on the stake.

Information had, for long, been the wall on which people leaned to plan for their future. But living in the world of the rapid growth of technology, people are exposed to consuming fake news. The same digital era came with social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp (Citizen Journalism), Twitter, Youtube, and others, and thus every people who can access and use them. These social media users even share information before traditional channels like radio, television, and newspapers do it. And this can lead to the circulation of fake news.

This, in Rwanda, is fought by organizing training for both working journalists in the profession and student journalists so that they acquire the skills on tracking factual and fake news.

Rwanda Media Program whose responsibility is to train Rwandan media journalists and students and help them build their capacity is one of the trainers.  Pax Press, on 11 October 2022, in partnership with FOJO Media Institute based in Sweden through Rwanda Media Program has trained 18 journalists from various media houses in Fact-Checking.

Speaking to the Kaminuza Star, Mr Fulgence Niyonagize, a project manager for Rwanda Media Program, said that they organized Fact-Checking training because people devour information regardless of their values.

“Many things are done on computers and the internet in this fast-developing world.There is much fake news circulating the world. And people devour this fake news without checking. People believe the news to be true because many people spoke about it”, Fulgence said.

He added that training journalists are necessary because they are on the right front of disqualifying fake news since Pax Press cannot reach every citizen.

“We cannot reach every citizen to warn them about the impact of fake news. This is why we organized the training for journalists as they face those challenges. So, training them about fact-checking can help them check what they are exposed to. We do not want journalists to disseminate fake news but they should be able to check what they see, hear and collect in their daily tasks,”Fulgence added.

The trained journalists address that being equipped with fact-checking skills is crucial. They are the main source of information for common people as they say, and that emphasizes the importance of fact-checking skills.

“Simply by analyzing the fake news circulated during the Corona Virus pandemic, you see the need for fact-checking skills for journalists. We, journalists, were expected to provide accurate information, but we did not have basic skills in fact-checking. People can disseminate fake news willingly or unwillingly due to different motives. The training was very beneficial,” says a BTN TV journalist, Jean de Dieu Byukusenge.

For journalists to have quality skills in fact-checking, they should be exposed to the necessary techniques and equipment. Some of the necessary equipment areTinEye, Pimeyes, and Bing images which can be used to track the real image.

Fake news that is spread widely is categorized into four categories which are:  Disinformation (to publish fake news intentionally), misinformation (to publish fake news unintentionally),  mal-information (to publish harmful information), and misleading information (to publish information that leads public in the wrong way).

By Yunusu Dukorerimana