Empowering Media Against Misinformation in South Sudan: Journalists’ Training Delivers Accuracy and Trust

211 Check | June 2023

Elizabeth Lodou | Courtesy Photo

Elizabeth Lodou, an accomplished broadcast journalist and Reporter at The Radio Community, embarked on a transformative journey as she joined our team as a trainee. Recognising the vital role she would play in combatting disinformation through media reporting, we were responsible for equipping her with the necessary skills to become an influential force in the fight against false information.

I made sure I dedicated my time and energy to learning during the training to learn more because I can now tell the difference between misinformation,” Elizabeth Lodou, a broadcast journalist and a Reporter at Singaita FM 88.3.

This initiative holds immense promise, as its impact extends far beyond the confines of Kapoeta North. By empowering Elizabeth with the tools to counter the spread of disinformation, we are actively contributing to the nationwide effort to safeguard the truth. Misinformation and disinformation manifest in various forms, from fabricated news articles and manipulated visuals to sensationalised headlines and viral rumours. The craftiness employed by disseminators of false information has reached new heights, underscoring the urgency for us to possess the knowledge and aptitude to discern fact from fiction.

Through comprehensive training, Elizabeth has developed a profound understanding of the multifaceted nature of mis/disinformation. She now comprehends that any piece of information, whether received from the public or sourced from social media, necessitates rigorous verification before it can be shared with her listeners and the community at large. Scrutinising the source, contextualising claims, and corroborating facts with relevant authorities have become integral steps in her pursuit of disseminating accurate and well-founded information.

As Elizabeth emerges from this training, she can separate truth from falsehood and is responsible for delivering trustworthy information to her audience. Armed with a profound grasp of media literacy and fact-checking techniques, she is poised to serve as a reliable source of verified news, effectively countering the detrimental effects of disinformation.

The accomplishments of Elizabeth’s journey will resonate throughout the nation, reinforcing our collective commitment to upholding the principles of transparency, accuracy, and integrity in media reporting. By enabling her to champion the cause of truth, we are sowing the seeds of a more informed and resilient society.

More skills are needed to identify misinformation, and tools to verify it before publishing or reporting are becoming increasingly important for journalists and other media makers in South Sudan, like in many other countries. The spread of misinformation through social media platforms has grown exponentially, leading to potential harm, social unrest, and damage to public trust. In a context where reliable information is crucial for fostering peace, stability, and informed decision-making, media professionals face the challenge of navigating a digital landscape flooded with rumours, false narratives, and misleading content. Therefore, acquiring and honing skills to detect and verify misinformation and utilising appropriate fact-checking tools and techniques is crucial for ensuring accurate and responsible journalism in South Sudan. It empowers media practitioners to deliver reliable, trustworthy information to the public, contributing to an informed citizenry and a healthier media ecosystem.

Defyhatenow is working with IREX in implementing the Sustainable Independent Media Activity (SIMA) to improve access to credible, accurate, and reliable information for South Sudanese citizens by promoting the sustainability of high-quality, independent and factual reporting. SIMA is grounded in the understanding that a vibrant, resilient, and self-reliant media sector is a core building block for greater inclusive social cohesion, accountability, enhanced democratic governance, conflict resolution, and more pluralistic societies. In designing an approach to bolster independent media amidst various obstacles, IREX and Defyhatenow launched a three-month journalists’ mentorship program targeting forty (40) content creators in South Sudan to equip them with skills and knowledge to combat disinformation, explicitly focusing on fact-checking and verification techniques.

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