One hundred journalists and Information Service Department (ISD) officers from the Bono and Bono East regions have undergone a two-day training workshop in fact- checking methodology to counter disinformation, misinformation and malformation.
Organised by the Ghana Commission for UNESCO, in collaboration with the German Commission for UNESCO and Dubawa Ghana, the training sought to equip the journalists with skills to produce or report factual and accurate news.
The two-day workshop organised in Sunyani and Techiman was also used to expose the participants to the various technology available to detect fake news or verify news for its authenticity.
According to the organisers, the two regions were selected to benefit from the training because they were identified as hotspots for electoral fraud and other electoral disturbances.
The beneficiaries were, therefore, taught to become familiar with fact-checking and other professional approaches, to conveying the truth for public consumption.
The participants were taken through topics such as ethics, laws and fake news, fact-checking methodology, information disorder and multimedia verification/digital fact-checking tools.
Others were social media hacks for fact-checking, the relevance of Right to Information Law, to story development and fact-checking, among others.
Speaking during the workshop for participants in the Bono Region at Fiapre, near Sunyani, the Bono Regional Director of the ISD, Imoro Ayibani Tebra, said with the emergence of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram, people were grappling with disinformation and misinformation “and the effects are enormous”.
Mr Tebra said different countries had introduced measures to check and hold the media liable for defamation, slander and libel on their reportage, as those volumes of information were produced as news to feed the public with factual, accurate and credible news.
He was optimistic that the training would broaden the horizon of information and RTI officers and journalists and empower them in the fight against fake news, through fact-checking of stories, spotting false news and how to use social media effectively.
The Programme Officer for the Ghana Commission for UNESCO, Joan Agyekum Nsowah, said the two partners had realised that fake news was on the increase and causing a lot of damage.
She said since the public consumed a lot of information from the media, it was appropriate for journalists to be trained in how to detect fake news in order not to misinform the public.
Mrs Nsowah said it was important for journalists to be exposed to technology that would help them detect fake news or verify news.
She said the organisations had so far trained more than 150 journalists in Accra, Bono and Bono East regions to help reduce the consumption of fake news in the country.
The Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Larry Paa Qwasi Moses, said the workshop was crucial for journalists because of the 2024 polls.
"Election 2024 will be a critical one and it is incumbent on us as journalists to play our role to ensure that this country remains peaceful," he stated.