“Reporting news is the job of a journalist but giving verified information is the responsibility and courtesy we owe our audience”, says Francine Mukase Freelancer with Pax Press.
As the Covid-19 virus is spreading, rumors and fake news spreads along with it. Journalists need the right tools to be able to inform the general population while at the same time combating the spread of fake news.
In Rwanda, organisers Fojo and Pax Press along with AfricaCheck, who provided trainers, are training journalists via an online course in fact-checking and security. The first day of the course is completed and a second day is scheduled. Around 100 journalist is planed to complete the course in total. The project is funded by Embassy of Sweden in Kigali.
“The lack of fact-checking is a big problem in Rwanda. Many untrue rumours are spread via platforms such as Whatsapp and some end up in media. Fojo is pleased that it was possible to reach over 40 journalists with this training. We plan to use this time when many are confined to their homes to do more such trainings”, says Anki Wood, project manager at Fojo.
The situation for journalists in Rwanda is difficult. The whole country is in lockdown due to Covid-19. For freelancers its particular difficult as journalists without a contractor can get arrested for violating the lockdown.
Mediatrice Umukunzi from the Bridge Magazine was one of the participants in the first online course.
“Electronic learning solutions can offer more collaboration and interaction with experts and peers, as well as a higher success rate than the live alternative. The online fact checking training enabled me to learn more about the tools used to check information and the fight against misinformation especially surrounding reporting Covid-19 related stories”, she said.