#FactsMatter: Fact-checking Training for Media Practitioners in Juba, South Sudan

Defy Hate Now in partnership with the UNESCO Office in Juba and Justice Africa held a two-day fact-checking training with journalists and content creators on the 15th and 16th of October, 2019. This was the first of Defy Hate Now-led series of trainings on fact-checking, which will take place in the next couple of months.

This training brought together over thirty participants; a group of enthusiastic South Sudanese journalists from various media houses and content creators who are keen on furthering good journalism by publishing verified information.

The training was led by  trainers from Kenya and South Sudan, who are well versed in journalism and blogging. Over the two days, the team took the media practitioners through the importance of fact-checking and  how it impacts the consumption of news in South Sudan and the world, and the necessary tools needed.

The trainers – James Wamathai, Kendi Gikunda and Nelson Kwaje

This training was informed by a survey by Defy Hate Now where more than 50% of our respondents said that Social Media and blogs are their primary sources of information in South Sudan. The country has seen a huge growth in the number of citizens who consume online information, despite the low internet connectivity in the country. However, this growth in online information consumption was not accompanied by a similar growth in the number and quality of online information sources in the country. 

Research by Defy Hate Now, in collaboration with Data4Change and Small Media Foundation

With this in mind, some of the  important topics that were covered in the course of the training included Misinformation and Fake News in South Sudan, fact-checking tools and strategies, and alternative media & its challenges.

To further understand the concept of misinformation, disinformation and mal-information, the  participants discussed and analyzed some of the stories which were controversial in South Sudan, such as the alleged death of President Salva Kiir in 2016, and the photo of a lady named Atong James who was allegedly tortured and killed by the National Security.

Group Discussion

Additionally, the participants spent the better part of the second day fact-checking some of the chapters in the 2018 South Sudan Peace Agreement, and they committed to doing a deeper analysis then publish the reports, with the support of Defy Hate Now.

This group will be part of the newly formed South Sudan Fact-checkers Network, an initiative will bring together media practitioners from Juba and other regions to collaborate and produce more factual and verified reports with the Defy Hate Now’s financial and editorial help. 

“Thank you Defy Hate Now for giving me the opportunity to interact with such great, fresh minds.  I am pleased and honoured to be part of this educative training. It was amazing how we teamed up and fact-checked some of the fake news,”said Rebecca Akuol, a Public Relations practitioner.

About Facts Matter

Facts Matter is a Defy Hate Now led project that aims at enhancing the quality of online information sharing through fact-checking and information verification. Since June 2019, the organization has been verifying and demystifying news and information shared on public platforms through data stories and visualizations.

Defy Hate Now is facilitating trainings on fact-checking for media practitioners, Civil Society Organizations and governments, where they will be taught the trends in fake news technology, methodologies for managing fake news, and fact-checking tools.