To commemorate World Radio Day 2021, Defyhatenow organised a WEBINAR: dubbed Bridging the divide: “How can mainstream media in South Sudan leverage online spaces to combat misinformation during critical times?” on 15 February.

This topic is in line with this year’s World Radio Day theme: Evolution, Innovation, Connection. The purpose of the Webinar was to engage various stakeholders in a discussion that explores ways in which the gap between mainstream media: registered recognised radio stations and unlicensed online media platforms: Social media pages and handles websites, blogs etc, can be reduced.

The gap between the two platforms is the tendency for unlicensed online media platforms to spread misinformation, disinformation, and fake news with no sense of accountability.

Mainstream media houses on the other hand are obligated to verify and fact check information before sharing on all platforms. In addition, they are accountable to regulatory bodies such as the media authority and National Communication authority in South Sudan.

The topic sought to address the need to close the gap given the danger that comes with the rapid spread of rumours online, by highlighting the fact that the presence of mainstream media online can effectively reduce the rate at which rumours and fake news go viral especially in times of crises such as the COVID 19 pandemic, disasters and conflict.



The Webinar brought together experts in various relevant fields as panellists and these included:

  1. Director General at National Communications Authority, Napoleon Adok: An ICT expert and Software Engineer with up to 20 years of experience gave the opening remarks on world radio day and its importance. 
  2. WHO South Sudan Infectious Hazards Management Officer, Dr Abraham Adut: A medical doctor and public health expert with specialization in Infectious diseases. When talking about misinformation related to covid-19 and mitigation, Dr Abraham Adut described it as ” …everyone’s work and we must all participate to save South Sudan”
  3. Humanitarian Advisor, Internews Global, Em Winters An anthropologist with experience in rumour tracking, data collection methodology standardisation on Social media. He talked about Rumour tracking, Social media listening and closing the feedback loop, in this case between media and the audience both offline and online.
  4. Editor of Programs at Eye Radio, Ochinyi Rosemary Wilfred Peter: An award-winning broadcast Journalist, Editor and Media trainer. She shared her experience on how online misinformation spreads fast and how hard it is to combat offline. She urged that there is a need for a collective effort to scale up the efforts in place for combating misinformation during crises.
  5. Director of programs at Defyhatenow, Nelson Kwaje; A technologist and human rights campaigner with over seven years of experience in ICT and digital rights advocacy. Nelson shared with all participants statistics that show how unlicensed online media platforms have more reach and engagements compared to the few mainstream media radio stations present online. He also emphasised on the need for mainstream media outlets to dedicate more resources and time to having a strong digital presence, he stated that this move will allow all media houses to capture a different demographic that is out of their reach at the moment. 

The event had a diverse attendance which included journalists, business owners, program officers, social media content creators and freelancers. The Panelists presented a case for why bridging the gap between mainstream and online media is important during crises. 

Key points from the WEBINAR

  1. Mainstream radio stations need to care about their reputation and hire professionals among other good practices.
  2. It is important for the mainstream media to set up social media accounts to engage with their audience on these alternative platforms and to disseminate vetted and verified facts that are established by the following due journalistic processes according to ethical journalistic standards.

When engaging with social media audiences, mainstream media should apply social media listening as follows:

  • Know that quality over quantity is key. 
  • Ensure relevant content is collected from social media that is being engaged with locally.
  • The key is to capture diverse voices. 
  • Train the team creating content to ensure they understand what content they should focus on–average social media users and content with significant reach.
  1. In order to shift focus away from rumours and fake news, mainstream media present online should set up Inclusive demand-driven two-way communication channels with meaningful content for decision-making.
  2. Closing the feedback loop: Napoleon suggested that Eye Radio and other mainstream media should adopt shortcodes for their call-in programs to ease communication between the radio and its audience, as well as an SMS system for reporting fake news and for verifying information.