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Media practitioners must be gatekeepers of truths & facts – Lecturer

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Nana Acheampong, senior lecturer at the African University College of Communications, has reminded media practitioners of their responsibility as “gatekeepers for truths and facts.”

Mr. Acheampong, speaking to Mark Smith on A1 Radio’s Day Break Upper East Show, urged journalists to continue to hold firm to the ethics of their professions to help the country deal with the alarming cases of misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation.

“Our job is to make sure that before we publish, before we share, before we comment on any news item, we have verified its authenticity and that we know that it is an incontrovertible fact,” he said.

Mr. Acheampong urged the public to be guided by UNESCO’s Media and Information Literacy, “which tells us to first of all check the source of the news, whether it is online or in traditional media. Also, assess where it is coming from. Check your content, and then check where the news is destined. If you do these checks, you will know who is sending the message, what message the person is sending, and who that particular sender wants the message to reach. When you have this intelligence, you automatically have an idea if there is an agenda or not. You can also use tools on social media to check, counter-check, and cross-check simple news items that come along as a media consumer.”

While admitting that Ghana is dealing with cases of misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation, Mr. Acheamping added that the country is not isolated as these have become of global concern. 

“Ghana is not isolated when it comes to the issues of misinformation and disinformation. Ghana, just as America, just as any other country, has this problem. It is a bit more difficult when you are dealing with a community where social media is more advanced. When it comes to Ghana, misinformation and disinformation occur more on social media than on traditional media. The consumers of those particular media are those that are prone to being misinformed or disinformed.”

In line with helping media practitioners deal with misinformation and disinformation, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) recently trained 125 journalists across the country on fact-checking and countering mis-disinformation in Ghana. The purpose of the two-day training series was to expose the journalists to concepts such as information disorder, fake news, and misinformation, how pervasive they are, how they manifest, as well as their impact on peace and democratic governance.

The second component of the training provided a deep dive into some fact-checking and verification tools that can be used to identify and counter misinformation, as well as fact-checking standards and ethics. In Tamale, the journalists were brought together from the Upper East, Upper West, Northern, North East, Savannah, and Bono East regions. Similar training was organised in Kumasi, Ho, and Accra.

Source: A1radioonline.com|101.1MHz|Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith|Ghana

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