Tanzania Media Foundation (TMF) has engaged 11 journalists at ownership and managerial levels in online media for a five-day masterclass running from 1st to 5th November, 2021. The masterclass aims at building the selected journalists’ capacity to debunk fake news and verify information before publication.
“We expect journalists to be in the position to tell the difference between authentic and fake information. We hope to see the media sector in Tanzania embrace and apply new fact-checking skills more actively to overcome misinformation, disinformation and mal-information. This will in turn enhance its role in working for public interest,” explains Dastan Kamanzi, the Acting Executive Director of TMF.
He further explains the rationale for offering the masterclass to journalists specifically from online media outlets.
“TMF’s focus has always been on radio and online media. However, recently we have majorly been building the capacities of radio journalists. Therefore, this time we thought of online media which is the hotbed of fake news. As much as there is fake news on mainstream media, it is worse on online platforms.”
The DW-Akademie funded masterclass features facilitators from Nukta Africa who are experts in fact-checking and data journalism. The sessions themselves are being conducted at the TMF office in Kinondoni, Dar es Salaam.
Before the training, Nukta Africa conducted an assessment of the journalists’ understanding of fact-checking before the masterclass started.
“Based on the pre-training assessment conducted with the participants, it is clear that their understanding of fact-checking is very low. This can be seen by the journalists’ responses; most rated themselves with high and moderate understanding but their failure to identify the basic fact-checking tools is a clear indicator that they are not familiar with the topic,” explains Daniel Mwingira, Nukta Africa’s Chief Training and Business Development Officer.
Seif Mangwangi, an editor from Arusha Press Blog is one of the 11 journalists taking part in the masterclass. He says that he expects to learn a lot from the fact checking sessions.
“I see this as an opportunity to learn about the ways through which I can verify information and hazards associated with spreading unverified information. This will enhance my capacity to modify our blog’s content in such a way that it will attract a larger audience.”
Veronica Ignatus, a journalist from Michuzi Media Group in Arusha also looks forward to learning more.
“I expect to increase my knowledge in fact-checking and information verification and understand clearly the distinction between misinformation and disinformation. Much as we rely on data to have a great story, I have learnt that in some cases, false information is hidden in it, therefore it’s important to cross-check the data one has.”
After the sessions on Friday, the participants will be tasked to carry out practical exercises on fact checking that will enable them to share knowledge with their colleagues in their respective workplaces. TMF hopes that in this way journalists’ adherence to the verification principles of journalism and practicing of journalism’s best practices in Tanzania will increase.
Written by Alfred Ganzo; TMF Programme Officer.