Ochaya Jackson: From Fellow to Trainer, Spearheading the Fight Against Disinformation in South Sudan

211 Check | May 2023

Ochaya Jackson Amos | Courtesy Photo

Ochaya Jackson was admitted as a fellow for a previous 211 Check two-month in-person and intensive Fact-checking and Digital Rights Fellowship at Defyhatenow South Sudan, where he did exceptionally well. This time, he returns as a  trainer to teach others fact-checking. He is a fourth-year student pursuing a media degree at the University of Juba.

Introducing Ochaya Jackson as our trainer for a three-month journalists’ mentorship marks a pivotal milestone in the fight against disinformation through media reporting in South Sudan. With immense expertise and experience, Ochaya will spearhead comprehensive online and in-person training sessions for forty content creators on Fact-checking principles and tools, especially those used for archiving, reverse image searches, Geolocation, Website Verification, and Videos. This focused training program aims to equip these creators with essential skills to combat disinformation and navigate challenging election environments.

The ripple effects of this initiative are profound, contributing significantly to curtailing the spread of disinformation within South Sudan. Imparting fact-checking and verification techniques, Ochaya empowers content creators to discern and halt the dissemination of false information. Consequently, media reporting becomes more accurate and reliable, providing citizens access to credible information and mitigating the adverse consequences of disinformation on communities and conflicts.

The program prepares journalists from the target locations of Abyei, Baliet County, Wau County, Jur River County, Kapoeta North County, Budi County, Leer County, Mayendit County, and Juba County to operate in challenging election fact-checking environments to help fact-check election-related claims and ensure citizens can access credible, accurate, and reliable information during election cycles. This will involve training journalists on election fact-checking, safety and security measures, and ethical considerations when fact-checking election-related claims, and also include setting up mechanisms for election fact-checking desks.

This endeavour addresses critical challenges prevailing in South Sudan’s media landscape. Empowering content creators with the necessary skills and knowledge fosters responsible journalism, combats disinformation, and fortifies the democratic process. The impacts of this intervention reverberate across the media industry, local communities, and society at large, fostering an informed, inclusive, and democratic South Sudan.

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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